Virtual reality has received another financial reality boost with the announcement from VR movie pioneer Jaunt that it has landed a $27.8 million round of funding — including some major bucks from Google Ventures.
This Series B round, which Highland Capital Partners led along with Google Ventures, brings the total raised so far for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company to $34 million.
“First and foremost, [this funding] will allow us to continue to grow the team we’ve already begun to put together,” CEO and founder Jens Christensen told VentureBeat.
The company will also “be able to build additional cameras and build out the production team, which means we can film and produce more content, and do it on a larger scale,” Christensen said, plus establish new partnerships with creative and platform providers.
Christensen confirmed that each Jaunter “will have their own headgear and [be] in their own space,” but “as the cinematic VR industry evolves, there will likely be a lot of different options for experiences such as fully VR equipped theaters [or] shared home viewing experiences.”
Jaunt is certainly not dampening expectations. The company still promises “seamless, omnidirectional 3D experiences” of cinematic VR.
Jaunt hasn’t established a timetable yet for when its camera units go on sale or for release of the cinematic VR content it’s helping to produce. “We are currently in postproduction on several projects,” Christensen told us, “and intend to begin releasing some of it later this year.”
How will the content be made available? Will it come from high-speed transmission or some kind of dense storage medium?
Christensen said the experiences “will be available via unique content player applications that will be available for download on any VR headset.” He also predicted that “the content itself will be available in both free and paid formats,” not unlike apps, TV and movies today.
But, he added, it “might be possible there will be a different distribution model created specific to VR. That’s one of those evolving pieces that we’ll know in time.”
Jaunt employs the Oculus VR headset, a product of the company that Facebook bought for $2 billion in March. Facebook’s huge bet on the sector not only indicated VR had arrived but that it was also a possible next stage in technology-mediated social interaction.
Now, Google’s increased involvement raises eyebrows as to what that tech giant has in mind. Google, of course, is involved in virtually everything, but its Ventures arm insists on its website that it invests in “the best companies — not strategic investments for Google.”
But other giants have also jumped into the VR landrush. Sony has its Project Morpheus, for instance, and Samsung is working with Oculus.
This round of funding also saw participation by existing investors Redpoint Ventures, British Sky Broadcasting, Peter Gocher, and Blake Kirkorian. Highland Capital partner Alex Taussig will now become a member of the Board of Directors.