Although the road certainly had some stumbling blocks and potholes, technology market analysts can now say with confidence that virtual reality is here to stay. VR has not only captured the public imagination with the pure wonder and delight of entering the digital world, it shows real promise to change the world for the better with its countless (and lucrative!) applications to industries ranging from manufacturing to medicine. At long last, the question has changed from whether VR is worth investment, to how to invest in virtual reality.
The train is already rolling, of course, but there is still plenty of room for new innovation, new capital, and new ventures. Virtual reality investors are coming from every direction, and the size of the market is rapidly increasing. According to investment analysts at Digi-Capital, VR investments reached $2 billion from July 2015 – July 2016.
The Top Virtual Reality Investments of 2016
As is so often the case when a new game-changing technology comes along, large corporate investors are leading the way. For entrepreneurs and smaller VCs, understanding where and why the many 800lb gorillas are directing their resources is crucial to success.
VR development is a wide-open field full of opportunities for investment, but it will not remain so forever. Before diving in, it pays to do one’s homework and survey the landscape. Here are some of the most important things currently happening in the space.
One of the biggest news stories to ever hit the VR investments headlines was Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus in 2014, naturally announced via Facebook post. Oculus is one of a scant handful of companies manufacturing high-end dedicated VR gear for the consumer market, and its acquisition by the social media giant represented an incredible validation of VR as a whole.
Since then, Facebook has continued to invest in virtual reality on both the tech development and public relations fronts. At the 2016 Facebook F8 Conference, essentially a trade show for Facebook investors and developers, the company showcased their vision for the future of "social VR". Two executives wearing Oculus Rift HMDs (head-mounted displays) shared photos and fun in the virtual world, going so far as to enter a 360’ photograph of Paris. Facebook leads the way in social, but the countless social networks finding traction with people of all ages shows that there is plenty of room for more.
HTC & Valve
The closest competitor to Facebook and Oculus is the HTC-manufactured Vive, developed in conjunction with video gaming stalwart Valve. Although the Vive started life laser-focused on the entertainment and gaming space, HTC has rapidly expanded their marketing efforts to include a wide range of industries. In June 2016, the company formalized their investment in virtual reality for the enterprise with the Vive Business Edition.
HTC believes so strongly in VR development that they have also spun the division off into its own company. The newly formed HTC Vive Tech Corporation is committed to furthering the adoption of virtual reality using new products like the Viveport VR content curation platform. HTC has been a strong advocate for VR investments, and it’s likely that Viveport will serve as a fine mouthpiece for the burgeoning industry.
Record Investments in VR
In the VR startup arena, investments have been swift and generous. The massive potential of the technology is obvious to VCs and other investment organizations, and some truly staggering amounts of cash are being funneled to innovators in the space.
- Blippar – This mobile-based augmented reality search engine displays rich content about potentially any physical object. The app promises users the ability to point their phone at a piece of art, a plant, or anything else and bring up immediate results. The UK-based firm brought in $54 million in Series D funding in 2016, making them one of the best-funded startups in the country.
- Magic Leap – Although the details of their product are being kept under wraps, the press materials and web demos provided by Magic Leap have been enough to attract massive investments from Google, Qualcomm, Alibaba Group, and more. In the first half of 2016, the company brought in an additional $793.50 million in funding. Considering Magic Leap has yet to present a concrete product to the public, one can only conclude that whatever they have shown the investors behind closed doors is must be truly amazing.
- MindMaze – This startup, focusing on the development of a hardware and software chipset that could potentially power a wide range of products and VR experiences, was valued at $1 billion in 2016. The company was able to leverage the pre-money valuation into a staggering investment of $100 million. Mindmaze is expected to be critical to non-gaming VR applications, specifically enterprise usage in the healthcare industry.
Virtual Reality and the Stock Market
Virtual reality is expected to boost a great number of companies across the NASDAQ. Investment analysts at The Motley Fool make a strong case for being bullish on chipset manufacturers like AMD, as well as video game maker Sony. The upcoming PlayStation VR HMD is pointed squarely at the crucial mid-market space, bridging the gap between low-end mobile-based displays like Google Cardboard and the highly capable, but highly expensive, offerings from Oculus and HTC.
The point the Fool and other analysts make is that virtual reality is good for the tech investment market as a whole. VR is versatile and wide-ranging, and has obvious intersections with other technologies like the Internet of Things. VR touches so many areas of consumer and commercial tech that its fast-growing adoption can only be good for the NASDAQ.
How AppReal-VR Can Help
AppReal-VR has been part of the world of new technologies since its inception in 2011. The firm is expert in all areas of VR development, including mobile applications, social, and commercial software. The team, led by CEO Yariv Levski, has many years of collective experience in cutting-edge tech. The VR arm has already distinguished itself with completed projects in industries from fashion to sports.
It’s clear that the market is ready for a mass influx of virtual reality products and applications. Venture capitalists and large corporate funds believe in the technology, and virtual reality investors are actively searching for innovators to create the next big hit. Choosing the right VR development firm is paramount to any virtual reality enterprise, and AppReal-VR has a proven track record of success.
Any successful business venture requires a strong idea, strong capital, and strong execution. Virtual reality still new, and it poised to change the world. So much has yet to be accomplished or even attempted in the field, and the ideas are numerous. Massive organizations are simply wondering when and how to invest in virtual reality. The right idea, paired with the right execution from a firm like AppReal-VR, is the answer they seek.