Entertainment veterans from DreamWorks Animation have started their own virtual reality startup with $3 million in funding.
The Santa Monica, California-based Spaces is headed by chief executive Shiraz Akmal and chief technology officer Brad Herman, two veterans who worked on DreamWorks Animation’s early VR experiences through 2015. Comcast Ventures led the funding for the company, which will VR and “mixed reality” experiences. Spaces is already working with such companies as Microsoft, NBCUniversal, Big Blue Bubble and The Hettema Group, among others, to develop and produce a wide range of projects across all VR and mixed reality platforms.
Among the target platforms are the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens, Samsung Gear VR, PlayStation VR and Google Cardboard.
“Virtual reality spaces offer creative challenges we’ve never seen before: to build fully dimensional spaces in which viewers can completely interact,” Akmal said, in a statement.
Herman also said, “In every respect, VR is creating new horizons, and we’re eager to help companies explore them.”
Other investors included Boost VC; Canyon Creek Capital; Colopl VR Fund; Gree Inc.; Kai Huang; The Venture Reality Fund; the Sinovation Fund; Youku Global Media Fund; and CRCM VC.
“Spaces has a compelling and clear vision to be the catalyst for companies looking to create VR and MxR experiences,” said Comcast Ventures managing director Michael Yang, in a statement. “Spaces is combining remarkable capabilities, tools and creativity to push the boundaries of the VR frontier.”
The Spaces team has a wide-ranging background in filmmaking, video games and theme parks. Akmal has been the vice president of operations-product development for the now-defunct video game company THQ, and executive creative director Dean Orion has a career that has included writing for television and creating interactive, location-based attractions for DreamWorks Animation and Walt Disney Imagineering.
“All around the globe, VR is transforming how we build, create and publish content, and how we experience the world. The Spaces team has the ability and the background to make an enormous impact on VR and MxR, and I am eager to see what they accomplish,” said Kai-Fu Lee, founder and CEO of Sinovation Fund, in a statement,
The Spaces advisory team includes Dan Offner, attorney, angel investor and former general counsel for Oculus; Keith Boesky, former president of Eidos Interactive and the principal of Boesky & Company; and Indian film actor and entrepreneur Rana Daggubati, star of Baahubali: The Beginning, the highest-grossing film in India’s history.