Pixvana, a Seattle VR startup working to create a cloud-based processing and delivery platform for VR video, today announced a $6 million fundraise.
In a round led by Madrona Venture group with participation from Vulcan Capital and angel investors, Pixvana is coming out of stealth to announce that it has raised $6 million to develop a cloud-platform aimed at tackling challenges of capturing, processing, and delivering virtual reality video. The company did not specify the series of the investment.
Pixvana CEO Forest Key told me that the company is betting big on VR video because of its potential for widespread adoption across a swath of devices from desktops to smartphones.
“Dozens of technical things had to be addressed for online video until the user experience become good,” Key said. “It rose to the point that… going into this new wave of VR video, consumer expectations are very high because video on the web is excellent. The expectation for the consumer is that when the put on the goggles it better be fucking awesome because that’s what they’re used to elsewhere.”
Key was vague when describing precisely what Pixvana is working on, though he says the company aims to tackle a number of challenges for VR video that run the gamut from acquisition, to post & delivery, to consumption. He says that the company isn’t building a consumer service, but they’d be more akin to an “IT backbone” for VR video.
“…for example you might store your bits on Amazon S3 and transcode, then you might hit our API to switch and manipulate images at an image processing level which culminates in delivering to a client,” Key said.
He described a number of 360 degree video efforts currently in the works as “not actually virtual reality,” citing a need for filmmakers to create for the medium of VR rather than emulate existing film. Similarly he acknowledges the technical challenges that his company hopes to overcome. “[VR video needs] a little bit more work from the creative people and a lot of work from the technology,” he told me.
Pixvana’s four founders—Forest Key, Scott Squires, Bill Hensler, and Sean Safreed—represent a wealth of experience in the realm of computer graphics and media delivery. Key himself formerly worked on Silverlight and Flash, Squires was CTO at Industrial Light & Magic, Hensler was CTO of Adobe’s Creative Suites, and Safreed worked as Project Manager on OpenGL, just to name a few of the team’s impressive roles. The company is also looking for a number of new hires.
While the Pixvana remains largely quiet about the specifics of their product for the time being, Key says that at some point down the road the company plans to “show up with a demo that you put on your head and it blows your mind.” We’re certainly looking forward to it.