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NextVR gets $80 mn funding to build on live virtual reality broadcasting

MUMBAI: NextVR, which offers live virtual reality broadcast technology, announced that it has raised $80 million in a Series B round to help the company expand its global footprint.

The majority of funding from the Series B raise comes from investors throughout Asia in the entertainment, content and technology markets, as well as new US investors including all participating US investors from the Series A round.

The Series B investment positions NextVR to accelerate development of its virtual reality platform and international operations to bring considerably more live entertainment – from concerts, world-class sports and other performances – to consumers through an expanding array of high-profile, global technology, entertainment and investment partners.

“With this new funding, we will continue to build NextVR’s virtual reality platform to meet the needs of the world’s largest fan bases around live sports and music content. Having the support of Asia’s biggest players provides us with significant resources for creating and distributing both local and international content in China, Korea, and Japan,” said NextVR executive chairman Brad Allen.

NextVR’s pipeline of exclusive content and virtual reality experiences grew significantly in 2016. Recently, NextVR announced a partnership with Live Nation, the global leader for live entertainment, to deliver hundreds of ‘A’ list performances in virtual reality to fans worldwide. As NextVR continues to broadcast major sporting events live in virtual reality – including past events such as the US Open and the Masters Tournament, the Kentucky Derby, the DAYTONA 500, the International Champions Cup (ICC) and many others – the new funding will lead to a sustainable cadence of live and on-demand virtual reality broadcasts.

Investors in the Series B round include:

  • Citic Guoan Information Industry is primarily engaged in information network infrastructure construction and provision of information services. The company businesses include cable television network services, value-added telecommunications services, network system integration and development of application software products.
  • NetEase, a Chinese Internet technology and online gaming company, is focused on providing content for mobile and PC games, as well as stimulating consumer engagement. In partnership with Blizzard Entertainment, Microsoft and Mojang AB, NetEase also licenses international online games such as World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and Minecraft in China.
  • CMC Holdings (CMC), founded and chaired by Ruigang Li, is a Chinese investment and operating platform in media and entertainment, internet and mobile and lifestyle. CMC has created and cultivated many leading and innovative companies across the entire spectrum of content, platform, technology and service, and in diverse areas including film, television, sports, advertising, financial and media data service, smart TV, VR, location-based entertainment, music, game and e-commerce.
  • SoftBank Corp., a subsidiary of SoftBank provides mobile communication, fixed-line communication and internet connection services to customers in Japan. Leveraging synergies with other companies in the SoftBank Group, SoftBank Corp. aims to transform lifestyles through information and communications technology (ICT) and to expand into other business areas including the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and energy.
  • VMS Investments Group is a multi-strategy investment group of companies based in Hong Kong with businesses covering private equity, structured finance, asset management, securities brokerage and corporate finance advisory services. Its portfolio includes companies with a focus in technology, media and telecommunications as well as healthcare, modern services and natural resources, and consumer sectors.
  • Founder H Fund, an arm of Founder Group, is a leading Chinese investment firm focused on companies in growth and mature stages across all sectors globally. The company primarily concentrates on healthcare, life science, TMT, new media and other emerging industries.
  • China Assets (Holdings) Limited, a listed company on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, is an investment fund covering Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China. Its primary areas of investment include health care, pharmaceuticals and technology.
  • Spectrum 28, an early-stage fund investing in industries ready for a tectonic shift and companies/technologies that can trigger change at a global scale. The team is based in San Francisco, Calif.

“We trust in the future of live experiences in VR and NextVR has proven it is the company that will deliver on that promise. We are making an investment in NextVR because we believe the company’s global platform for live VR will win the hearts and minds of users everywhere,” said  Citic president Guoan Sun Lu.

All the investors from the $30.5 million Series A round, announced in November of 2015, participated in the Series B round. They include lead investor Formation Group, Time Warner Investments, Comcast Ventures, Stephen Ross’s RSE Ventures, Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber, The Madison Square Garden Co., and dick clark productions.

“NextVR continues to revolutionise how live virtual reality content will be created and delivered. Consumers are excited about the technology and NextVR’s platform is clearly the leader in this emerging space,” said Time Warner Investments MD and a NextVR board observer Scott Levine.