Startup Envelop VR raised around $5.5 million for its platform which promised to use VR to surround you in limitless windows. The company’s VR tech basically extended the Windows operating system so you could theoretically work with a number of apps spread around you in VR. Ultimately, the idea was that legacy apps could eventually use Envelop tools to extend into VR and use 3D space more effectively to display information.
We reported on the startup finally closing the funding round in January 2016. By January 2017, the startup had shut down.
The reason this bears repeating is that one of our favorite VR apps, Bigscreen, announced seed funding today to the tune of $3 million, led by Andreessen Horowitz (early investors in Oculus). Bigscreen has a lot in common with that earlier startup in that it basically does the same thing as Envelop, Virtual Desktop and several other Windows extension apps — with one big caveat.
In Bigscreen, you’re not alone.
From the start Bigscreen launched its desktop VR tool as a social experience where you could bring other people into a shared virtual space to work, play games or watch movies together. I asked Bigscreen founder Darshan Shankar about the comparison to Envelop, and he had this to say (emphasis added):
I think it’s important to first focus on product market fit and building a great product that provides immediate value to users. Out of the box, Bigscreen is a useful and intuitive product, which has lead to thousands of people using Bigscreen every single day. Raising too much money and hiring too many people too early – before you have product market fit – can have negative consequences for building a sustainable long-term company. Our funding round was oversubscribed and we had over $17 million offers on the table. We decided to raise much less because we are disciplined in our approach and plan to be here for the long run.
Shankar said today 150,000 people have used the free software so far, which he defines as “registered beta users that have actually used Bigscreen in a Rift or Vive headset.” When combined with the comment above suggesting thousands of people use it every day, Shankar has shared some notable metrics on which he aims to build.