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How David Holz Went from Leap Motion to Midjourney: The Story of an AI Art Pioneer

Midjourney is a generative artificial intelligence program and service that creates stunning images from natural language descriptions. It is one of the most popular and innovative AI applications in the world, with millions of users and artworks. But who is the man behind this amazing technology?

How did he go from co-founding Leap Motion, a company that revolutionized user interfaces with hand motions, to creating Midjourney, a platform that unleashes the creativity of millions of people? This article will explore the story of David Holz, the founder and CEO of Midjourney, and his vision, motivation, and personality.

Early Life and Education

David Holz grew up in south Florida, Fort Lauderdale. His father was a dentist who had a dental office on a sailboat, and would sail around to Caribbean to get to his patients. Holz developed an early interest in computers, as his father had one for work. He also spent a lot of time alone, as his neighborhood was mostly old people. He started coding in Scheme, but wasn’t truly motivated until he realized he could hack the game Star Wars Jedi Knight Dark Forces II to shoot rockets out of his character’s hands.

Holz attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating with a dual degree in math and physics. He wanted to continue to study both in grad school, but was forced to pick one. He chose applied math, which he thought of as a middle ground. While working on his PhD in applied math, he also worked at the nearby NASA Langley and the Max Planck Institute. He became overwhelmed by the amount of projects he had taken on and decided to focus on one thing he really cared about. He decided that thing would be his first startup, Leap Motion.

Leap Motion

The idea for Leap Motion came to Holz when he was in middle school. He attempted 3D modeling, and was surprised at how difficult it was to do on computers. He thought the problem was in the human-computer interface. At the end of high school, he started designing algorithms to track hands, as a method of 3D modeling.

Holz came up with the idea during a typing class, where he was told he could do whatever he wanted if he could write 60 words per minute with a sheet of paper over his hands. He succeeded. He decided to learn how to 3D model.

Leap Motion was developed before touchscreen computing became popularized by Apple, and later with Windows tablets. Holz later reflected that Leap Motion was the right product at the wrong time. He realized he should have released it after the smartphone (touchscreen computing) revolution.

In essence, he thinks that Leap Motion should have been the successor of touchscreen, or an addition to it. Leap Motion didn’t work very well with Windows applications, which also played a role in its failure as a business.

With all the tech giants out there, Holz believes we’re quite limited as to the potential of hand-motion computing and VR. Rather than 10 companies competing to build the best VR headset, we have 1-2 companies building generic models. Holz sold Leap Motion to Ultrahaptics in 2019.


After Leap Motion, Holz started wondering about what the future would look like, and what people would need in this uncertain future. He decided to explore the field of artificial intelligence, and specifically generative models, which can create new content from data.

He was inspired by OpenAI’s DALL-E, which can generate images from text prompts, and Stability AI’s Stable Diffusion, which can generate realistic and diverse images from noise. He wanted to create a platform that would allow anyone to use these powerful technologies to express their creativity and imagination. He founded Midjourney, Inc. in San Francisco, California, in 2022.

Midjourney is a generative artificial intelligence program and service that creates images from natural language descriptions, called prompts. It is one of the technologies of the AI Spring, a term coined by Holz to describe the rapid advancement and democratization of AI. The tool is currently in open beta, which it entered on July 12, 2022. The Midjourney team is led by Holz, who is the founder and CEO. Holz told The Register in August 2022 that the company was already profitable.

Users create artwork with Midjourney using Discord bot commands. To generate images, users use the /imagine command and type in a prompt; the bot then returns a set of four images. Users may then choose which images they want to upscale. Midjourney is also working on a web interface.

The company has been working on improving its algorithms, releasing new model versions every few months. The latest version, V6, was released on December 21, 2023. The model was trained from scratch over a nine month period. Support was added for better text rendition and a more literal interpretation of prompts.

Vision, Motivation, and Personality

Holz’s vision for Midjourney is to empower people to create anything they can imagine, and to make AI accessible and fun for everyone. He believes that AI is not a threat, but a tool that can augment human creativity and intelligence.

He wants to build a community of artists, writers, designers, and enthusiasts who can share their creations and inspire each other. He also wants to explore the potential of AI art as a new form of expression and communication.

Holz’s motivation for Midjourney is partly personal, partly altruistic. He enjoys creating things, and he wants to share that joy with others. He also wants to help people cope with the challenges and uncertainties of the future, by giving them a way to express themselves and connect with others. He thinks that AI art can be a source of happiness, inspiration, and meaning for many people.

Holz’s personality is a mix of curiosity, passion, and humility. He is always eager to learn new things, and to challenge himself and his team. He is passionate about his work, and he puts his heart and soul into it. He is also humble, and he acknowledges his mistakes and failures.

He is not afraid to admit when he doesn’t know something, or when he needs help. He is open to feedback, and he listens to his users and his employees. He is also friendly, and he likes to joke and have fun with his team and his community.


David Holz is the founder and CEO of Midjourney, a generative artificial intelligence program and service that creates images from natural language descriptions. He is also the co-founder of Leap Motion, a company that created a new paradigm of user interfaces based on hand motions and video capture.

He is a visionary, a leader, and a creator, who has made a significant impact on the fields of user interfaces, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. He is also a curious, passionate, and humble person, who enjoys creating things and sharing them with others. He is the man behind Midjourney, and he is on a mission to make AI art accessible and fun for everyone.

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