Over the last year, almost $2.5B has been invested in the VR/AR industry according to Digi-Capital. Despite the fact that a mere 6% of Americans will own a VR headset in 2016, future-looking venture capital firms have invested $500M in the VR/AR industry in Q3 of 2016, with an average investment of $9.3M. The biggest gorillas in the room are the covert augmented reality company Magic Leap, which raised almost $800M in February (bringing its total funding to $1.4B), and the VR live-streaming company NextVR, which raised $80M in August (which brings its total funding to over $115M).
Here are the Top 10 recent investments…
Taiwan-based iStaging raised $5M in a pre-series A round, led by WI Harper. The company focuses on the furniture and real estate spaces, allowing people to visualize environments without physically being there, and offers platform-specific applications for mobile devices as well as VR headsets.
After working with 3 major clients (Smithsonian American Art Museum, transcosmos Inc., and AECOM), InstaVR announced a $2M Series A funding round, led by the Virtual Reality Fund. Specializing in authoring, publishing, and analysis, InstaVR enables anyone to easily create web-based 360-degree VR apps for desktop and mobile.
Starting as a hardware company and evolving into a software company as well, Razer is now also growing into an investing company. Announcing zVentures, a $30M venture capital fund, Razer will be strategically funding companies in the ioT, big data analytics, AR/VR, robotics, and Android gaming areas. Another new venture capital fund, Pathbreaker Ventures, has raised $12.9M to invest in early stage companies in emerging technologies, including VR/AR.
Virtual reality live streaming NYC startup LiveLike raised $5M to immerse you in the action of your favorite sports team. With former NBA commissioner David Stern as one of the investors, no doubt we’ll soon be able to get virtual courtside seats to watch King James dunk backwards.
Triple-A games are a big business, and Santa Monica-based First Contact Entertainment has raised $5M to bring that caliber of gaming to virtual reality. Working on its first release, a futuristic FPS in which you break the laws of physics, First Contact has an impressive roster of developer talent from Starbreeze, Blizzard, Treyarch, and Infinity Ward. The funding comes from an assortment of angels and early stage investors.
Moscow-based VR/AR game developer Luden.io has raised over $1M (65M rubles), saying its purpose is to “combine VR games with science to spread cognition via fun.” The funding comes from Sistema VC, which is a corporate venture fund from AFK Sistema – a major Russian conglomerate (with $161M) that targets global early-stage startups and focuses in Russia and surrounding regions.
After its first ad campaign for the Blair Witch Project, the Santa Monica company Vertebrae announced a $10M round of funding for its device-agnostic advertising platform – calling it a “conduit and a pipeline to give exposure across all parts of the ecosystem.” Although declining to name its investors, the company stated that they were not media companies.
Founded in 2015 by Maureen Fan (formerly of Zynga) and Eric Darnell (from DreamWorks), Baobab Studios has been called the “Pixar of VR” – and their most recent funding round of $25M brings a big Pixar name, too: Larry Cutler, technical director for Toy Story 2 and Monsters, Inc., has now joined the Baobab team as CTO. This series B funding puts Baobab’s total funding to $31M; keep an eye out for the full release of ASTEROIDS! from their endearing INVASION! series in 2017.
MEL Science raises $2.5M to make virtual lab experiments via a subscription service of almost 40 interactive chemistry sets. The company is based in the UK and Russia, and this Series A round was from Sistema Venture Capital.
Led by Intel Capital and Beringea, InContext Solutions raised $15.2M – which brings the company’s total funding to $40M. Focusing on helping retailers experiment with new in-store retail concepts with virtual reality, they are also integrating analytic features like heat maps into their ShopperMX platform.