VR and AR startups to get a boost from new VC firm

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The first VC firm focused solely on virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) has been launched. Presence Capital is an early-stage venture capital firm created by serial entrepreneur Paul Bargiel, serial technology entrepreneur and investor Amitt Mahajan and founder of the HTC Vive project, Phil Chen.

There is a lot of hype around VR and AR and also room and a need for early investors in the arena, so an investment firm like this is timely. The firm's aim is to create a healthy pipeline of startups to fuel innovation, creativity and forward movement within the emerging VR and AR markets.

"Our goal is to be early to support and empower exceptional entrepreneurs that share our vision and enthusiasm about VR and AR as the next major platform shifts," said Amitt Mahajan, managing partner at Presence Capital.

Presence Capital has raised $10 million for its inaugural AR/VR fund and has started investing in VR and AR companies. The first companies to benefit from the new VC firm are game developer Harmonix (makers of the game Rock Band) and new VR company Baobab (founded by top film, gaming and tech industry talents to create character-driven cinematic experiences in VR). Presence Capital has also invested in AR translation company Waygo. Other companies Presence Capital has invested in has not been publicly announced.

"We believe there's a gap in funding at the early-stage level mostly given the VR and AR markets haven't been clearly defined yet. Now the market is becoming primed it's important that the startups entering the market are providing value, have room to be creative and can help the global community fully explore what is possible," said Chen in a statement.

"One thing that will allow us to have more than just a capital impact on the VR and AR industries is the hands-on approach we take with our portfolio companies. All of the founding partners have solid networks, a strong operational background and relevant industry experience," added Bragiel.

Paul Bragiel has three startups under his belt and has subsequently started five funds across four continents. He has invested in seed rounds of more than 150 companies, including billion dollar companies like Unity and Zappos.

Amitt Mahajan is a serial technology entrepreneur and investor. He was the founder and CTO of MyMiniLife which was acquired by Zynga where he co-created the game FarmVille and also served as the CTO of Zynga Japan.

Phil Chen founded the HTC Vive project at HTC and brokered the Valve and HTC partnership. As head of HTC's business and corporate development, he has led investments into KKBox (the top music service in Asia), Soundhound, Magnet and the acquisition of Beats electronics.