Meet Jaunt, A Big-Time, VC-Backed Virtual Reality Studio

Interesting profile of Silicon Valley startup Jaunt, a VR film studio backed led by one of the execs who launched Hulu, by Ronald Grover for CNBC:

Fans of the America’s Cup sailing competition leapt into a boat sponsored by Land Rover, thanks to virtual reality, heeling to one side of the tilted boat as its crew battled the heaving spray of the Caribbean Sea. In one scene viewers were thrown overboard.

The film was produced by Palo Alto start-up Jaunt, which has the backing of Walt Disney, Alphabet’s GV start-up and other major media and technology companies as it makes its bid to dominate the virtual reality world, which many experts predict could be entertainment’s next big play.

A quick scroll through Jaunt’s home page lists some impressive credits, including VR content for Star Wars Rogue One, The Lion King, and Mr Robot. I also saw former First Lady Michelle Obama’s picture on there.

Backed with nearly $101 million in venture capital, Jaunt has built a library of nearly 300 pieces of mostly short-form VR content that includes a 360-degree view of a concert by former Beatle Paul McCartney, a panoramic of “The Lion King” on Broadway and a bullet-splattered “Escape of the Living Dead” video segment.

Eventual consumer adoption is anybody’s educated guess, but virtual reality is already hot when it comes to B2B spending:

Watching the world through goggles may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but analysts at Goldman Sachs recently projected an $80 billion industry by 2025, with $45 billion spent on goggles and other equipment and $35 billion more for the content to play video games or watch sports and entertainment in VR.

“It ultimately will change entertainment,” says digital media consultant Bernard Gershon, a former Disney strategic planning executive. “VR will be an immersive experience impacting all the senses – sight, sound, motion, touch, smell.”

It’s nothing particularly original, but this theory is taking shape in my brain: AR is to casual gaming and the app economy what VR is to console gaming and the movie biz. The two are related, and there’s a place for both, but ultimately AR will go mainstream and VR will offer deeper experiences for niche consumption.

You can watch Jaunt’s content on Oculus, Vive, Samsung Gear VR, and Android/iOS devices with a VR viewer.