VR Chat Room AltspaceVR Raises $10.3M To Promote Digital Occasions – TechCrunch
Pay-Per-Virtual Reality could become one thing thanks to AltspaceVR. The VR chat room and communication platform just raised $ 10.3 million to provide us with a digital place to hang out.
However, with this funding, which brings AltspaceVR to $ 15.7 million, a business plan needs to be created. While AltspaceVR is now focused on growth, its Co-Founder and CEO Eric Romo tells me that it could ultimately make money by selling entry to virtual gatherings of celebrities or thought leaders.
AltspaceVR was founded in 2013 and officially launched its VR chat room platform in June after months of testing. There, strangers from all over the world act as robot avatars who can talk to each other, surf the Internet, play oversized board games or watch videos on a giant digital screen. The software can run on Oculus, Mac and PC desktops as well as 3D TV and can be equipped with a Leap Motion or Kinect motion sensor to bring the gestures of the users into the virtual world.
Romo tells me, “One of the things that investors were looking forward to was an average session time of 25 minutes.” Most VR experiences these days are quick, one-off games or cinema experiences that only last three to five minutes. Your novelty quickly dries up. However, because AltspaceVR is populated with other real people, it doesn’t get boring or repetitive in the same way.
The new funding comes from Comcast Ventures as well as returning investors such as Tencent, Dolby Family Ventures, Lux Capital von Raine Ventures, Western Technology Investments, Maven Ventures, Promus Ventures, Streamlined Ventures and Rothenberg Ventures.
The money will fuel the growth of the AltspaceVR team beyond the current 20-person crew. Romo tells me that Comcast Ventures was a natural fit because “one of the things people at AltspaceVR love to do is watch things together. They watch Netflix, Twitch and YouTube. We’re happy that Comcast knows a lot about content. You can help us understand this content landscape. “
So far, live events have been some of AltspaceVR’s favorite moments. For example, a scientist who visited a massive volcanic crater and captured it in virtual reality using drones took a tour. Dozens of altspacers followed them as he led them through the volcano – a place they would likely never visit, especially without protective gear. Some people reported that the experience was one of the best things they’d ever done, VR or IRL.
Now there are a slew of AltspaceVR events for users to prepare for, from movie screenings and sporting events to gamer get-togethers like a recent table game weekend. AltspaceVR created a special VR tavern called V20 that comes straight from role-playing games. There, users could take part in games like Dungeons & Dragons. You can explore this room in the following video:
According to Romo, the players stayed in Altspace and played these games for 3.5 hours in a row. That’s a bit of a worrying sign of the future of humanity and the potential for VR addiction, but it sure is a good sign for AltspaceVR.
At the moment these events are free, but if the draw is sufficient, AltspaceVR could potentially charge the same fee as people pay to watch a boxing match on TV or attend a webinar. Today comedian Louis CK sells videos of his performances from his website. But at some point it might be able to draw a crowd to watch it live via virtual reality.
It is the dream of these shared experiences and the false encounters from AltspaceVR that convinced Mark Zuckerberg to buy Oculus. AltspaceVR was launched before this happened and before many believed that virtual reality would ever actually materialize. Two years later, and Social VR is no longer just a sham.
[Image Credit: Node]