Oculus seed investor Greg Castle was there for the birth of the company that rapidly accelerated virtual reality’s sudden resurgence. Now, he’s announcing an investment fund to focus on companies that can offer improvements in VR, AR, self-directed vehicles and robotics, as well as companies that can use artificial intelligence and computer vision in innovative new ways.
“All of these technologies are ‘here today,’ but there are a bunch of problems that need to be solved in order to reach the masses,” Castle said in an interview with Upload. “That’s what I’m looking for.”
Castle remembers the moment he became completely convinced VR would take off. It wasn’t when he was sitting next to a pool and future Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe showed him a video of John Carmack endorsing Palmer Luckey’s prototype. It was a bit later, when Iribe and his friends helped launch a well-produced video for the Kickstarter campaign featuring the endorsements of thought leaders at some of the most important videogame companies, including Epic Games, Unity Technologies and Valve Software.
“That was the point for me,” Castle said. “Every single major decision maker has gone on camera saying this is the future of video games…and these aren’t the kind of people who normally get on camera and endorse things … if they were getting on camera and saying this, they really believed it.”
With the $12 million fund from Anorak Ventures Castle is announcing, he is looking to find teams in “frontier technologies” that could build that kind of momentum in not just VR and AR, but in other areas where advances in artificial intelligence and computer vision can be used to improve lives.
“Over the next ten years these technologies will change our lives. I look for highly specialized teams solving tough problems in these exciting areas that will help bring these technologies to the masses,” Castle wrote in an email.
In case you were wondering, Anorak is the virtual alter-ego for a key creator of VR technology in 2011’s novel Ready Player One. Anorak happened to be quite an obsessive character, and the word is also apparently a slang term for someone who is obsessive about a particular subject. That’s precisely the kind of teams in which Castle is looking to invest.
Castle’s Anorak Ventures fund joins a number groups focusing on investments in these emerging areas, including Presence Capital, Pathbreaker Ventures and The Venture Reality Fund. To date, according to Castle, Anorak Ventures has made four investments from the current fund in Simbe, Dishcraft, LoomAI and a yet-to-be-announced VR company.
Greg Richardson (investor and former executive at EA and BioWare) and Silicon Valley veteran Reese Jones (who is involved with the Singularity University) will be advisors to the fund.