Virtual Reality Startup Vrse Lands New Executive, Seed FundingThursday, October 1, 2015
Virtual reality media company Vrse has closed a seed round and made a key executive hire.
Coming aboard is Drew Larner, the former chief executive of music streaming service Rdio, who will serve as its chief operating officer.
The company announced that in April it closed an undisclosed seed round from a number of prominent media players and investors, including venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, talent agency William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, Live Nation, Vice Media Inc. and Legendary Pictures.
Vrse produces virtual-reality content and distributes it on apps for iOS, Android and Samsung Gear VR. The company has produced a number of virtual-reality videos, including a documentary about Syrian refugees commissioned by the United Nations, and a tour of New York commissioned by New York Times Magazine. Its content can be viewed for free.
Media companies have been pouring money into the virtual reality industry recently. Last month, Walt Disney Co., Evolution Media Partners, Madison Square Garden Co. and Google Ventures invested $65 million into Palo Alto virtual reality company Jaunt, a startup quite similar to Vrse.
While most virtual-reality content is still experimental and free to consume, Vrse’s Larner will be tasked with finding ways to make money off the new media. He’s in talks with a variety of firms, including Hollywood studios and YouTube multichannel networks, in order to achieve that goal.
Yet, finding a business model for virtual reality content production is a charge which Larner admits will be difficult in these early days.
“It’s hard to reach a conclusion about it because it’s so new,” he said. “Right now, putting up a paywall would be a mistake because you’ve got to get people to try it.”