VR companies score funding, hire top talent

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Companies working in the virtual reality market are using their funding to hire top talent from the gaming industry and tech companies to hit the virtual road running. The advisory firm Digi Capital puts the estimated worth of the augmented/virtual reality market at a staggering $150 billion by 2020 and companies want to make sure they have what it takes to get a piece of the action.

Two companies working in the virtual reality space, but in different capacities, have this week announced funding rounds. Pixvana, a Seattle-based VR startup launched this week with an investment of $6 million and UK-based games company Ndreams has raised an additional $3 million from Mercia Technologies.

The Pixvana funding round was led by Madrona Venture group with participation from Vulcan Capital and angel investors. The VR startup is creating software for the delivery of high quality 360° video content through the cloud. Although the team only formed three months ago, between them the founding team has extensive experience in entrepreneurship and leadership at Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, Lucasfilm, and RedGiant.

Pixvana founder and CEO Forest Key said in an interview with Variety that he experienced “a profound sense of magic” when he tried HTC’s Vive VR headset for the first time. At the same time he realised that to have this kind of magic delivered to users video delivery technologies need to be improved much further. He told Variety that one of Pixvana’s first priorities would be streaming quality.

Ndreams will use the money from partner Mercia Technologies to develop immersive games for VR headsets like HTC Vive, the Rift and Samsung Gear. The company previously raised $2.6 million from Mercia technologies in January this year.

These additional funds will be used to increase the development team in order to build more games and to develop a support platform for other studios to publish their VR titles. Ndreams has been scouting for top talent to help them achieve their goals and has hired developers who led teams working on Playstation VR titles and Frontier Developments and Rockstar Games amongst others.

Ndreams was founded in 2006 by former Eidos Creative Director, Patrick O’Luanaigh, starting out as a publisher for PlayStation Home. Since 2013 the company has changed its focus to VR and is now the largest UK software developer solely focused on creating virtual reality entertainment content.