Virtual reality startup NextVR, a Laguna Beach-based company which produces immersive broadcast experiences like concerts and sports events, closed an $80 million Series B funding round that featured a number of new investors from China, mostly corporate investment funds and technology companies.
China Assets Holdings Ltd., CITIC Group, Net Ease, VMS Investment Group, all of China, CMC Holdings Ltd. of Hong Kong, and Founder H Fund were all part of the funding round. Japan’s Softbank Corp. and San Francisco-based Spectrum 28 Capital also participated.
The millions of dollars in funding pouring into U.S. startups -- Jaunt, The Virtual Reality Company, and Magic Leap, Inc., have all recently received backing from companies like China Media Company and Alibaba -- show that virtual reality is catching even more attention in China than in the U.S. The Wall Street Journal noted that more than 100 companies in China are developing head-mounted VR displays, many of which are powered by mobile phones, similar to Samsung’s Gear VR headset.
That is happening despite the fact that the market for virtual reality hasn’t yet taken off -- something that has U.S. investors balking at writing checks for later-stage VR companies. One reason is that consumers aren’t yet running out to buy VR devices. But Chinese companies are betting on future growth.
“China looks at this as an opportunity to be in on the ground floor,” said Brad Allen, NextVR executive chairman, in an interview with WSJ.
Comcast Ventures and Time Warner Investments were among the investors in NextVR’s earlier $30 million fundraising round, showing that there is interest in getting more virtual reality content to market.
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