Moonbot Studios, the Shreveport, Louisiana-based animation studio responsible for the Oscar-winning The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and many other popular pieces of short-form content, started laying off some of its 70 employees last week, according to a report published this afternoon in The Shreveport Times.
The article does not say how many people are being laid off, although it indicates that jobs were eliminated in the animation department, among other parts of the company. The piece speculates that the company has been sold and will relocate to another location. No employees of the company would speak to the paper due to the non-disclosure agreements they signed as a condition of receiving severance packages.
People, however, are speaking to Cartoon Brew. A source tells us that the buyer of the company is Magic Leap, the secretive virtual reality/augmented reality startup located in Dania Beach, Florida that has raised over $1.4 billion in venture capital from investors. The company has not yet released a product nor revealed what it is making. Cartoon Brew has not been able to officially confirm that Magic Leap is the buyer, but our source said:
They’re dissolving the Shreveport studio. Artists are already having to sell their houses and either transition to Florida or move elsewhere for work.
Lending credence to the theory that Magic Leap purchased Moonbot is the Twitter account of Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz, who follows both Moonbot Studios and co-founder Brandon Oldenburg. In a Reddit AMA last year, Oldenburg identified Magic Leap as among the “things that are blowing my mind.”
According to The Shreveport Times, studio co-founder William Joyce retains his ownership stake in the company. The piece did not confirm the situation of the other co-founders, Lampton Enochs and Brandon Oldenburg. The studio has been touted as a success story and held up as an example of how high-quality computer animation can be produced in the United States outside of traditional animation centers like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.