Live streaming VR company NextVR held significant layoffs on January 14, 2019.
I spoke by phone with co-founder and CEO David Cole, who said “we were built big” for a VR market projected to be larger than what materialized in 2017 and 2018. Cole said the Newport Beach-based company did not file for a WARN notice on the workforce reduction, suggesting the size of the layoff did not meet the threshold for disclosure according to California law.
Valuable NextVR Employees Laid Off
Cole declined to say how many were let go. While “a number of valuable employees” were impacted, the “majority of the company is not affected,” he said.
NextVR produces some of the highest resolution and visually detailed live captures we’ve seen of real world events. They’ve raised $115 million to date with a multi-year partnership with the NBA to live-stream games on a weekly basis to VR headsets. Cole said their live production schedule remains unaffected through the layoffs, with a broadcast tomorrow planned of the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Atlanta Hawks.
“This is a really necessary measure to stay in a position to take advantage of the market at the size where it is now,” Cole said.
NextVR was originally founded in 2009 as Next3D, a 3D compression company. The company was early in transitioning to VR, though, as a wave of companies raised huge amounts of money in the wake of Facebook’s $3 billion acquisition of Oculus in 2014.
The layoffs come after a series of companies like Jaunt, ODG and Meta suffered through 2018 from inflated expectations meeting the reality of the early market for VR and AR headsets. While other struggling companies have planned patent sales, pivoted to other businesses or suspended hardware sales, according to Cole, NextVR is continuing its course at its reduced size.
“The all in one did what we thought it would do,” Cole said. “Audience size is building very helpfully right now on the back of a number of things.”