What better way to celebrate the New Year than to recognise some of the work done by a few of the youngest members of the VR industry?
Forbes has posted its annual 30 Under 30 list and, unsurprisingly, several VR pioneers are featured on this year’s list across a range of categories. One figure in the Games category that many a Job Simulator [Review: 8/10] fan might recognize is Alex Schwartz, CEO of Owlchemy Labs. Schwartz’s studio helped pave the way for room-scale VR by working on an early version of the HTC Vive before it was formally announced. Currently available for free with every new purchase of a Vive and now released on Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, Job Simulator is a great example of what can be done with user-tracked VR. We also awarded the company our “Breakout VR Studio of 2016” award.
It’s an *honor* to be selected for Forbes 30 under 30 list for games! https://t.co/oodtDQsVVh — Here’s to another VR-filled year!
— Alex Schwartz (@gtjuggler) January 3, 2017
Owlchemy Labs raised $5 million in seed funding last year. Currently, Schwartz and co. are working on another game, Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality, which ties together with the hit TV show.
Next up in the Enterprise Tech category are Nate Beatty and Shane Scranton, co-founders of New York-based IrisVR, which specializes in bringing 3D assets into VR. Late last year the company launched two apps that it hopes will revolutionize the real estate industry, allowing for VR and 360 degree viewing of architecture. The platform currently has more than 25,000 users, and the company has raised $10 million in funding. Many people talk about what VR could do for real estate and architecture, these two are actually doing it.
LiveLike VR co-founders Jeremie Lasnier, Andrew Lorenceau, and Saswat Panda were also featured under Consumer Tech. These guys are focused on live VR sports broadcasting, and have made several strides recently, including the addition to replay footage like you might with a DVR system, a first amongst VR livestreaming apps. With partnerships with the likes of FOX Sports already under its belt, the company has raised $5 million with the help of CAA Ventures, former NBA commissioner David Stern, and the NFL. LiveLike could hold the keys to the future of sports broadcasting.
Thalmic Labs, the creator of the Myo gesture-control armband, is also listed under Consumer Tech. Co-founders Matthew Bailey, Aaron Grant, and Stephen Lake were recognized. Myo itself was once thought of as a potential input solution for the early Oculus Rift development kits, but Thalmic has since started teasing bigger things. In September, it raised a massive $120 million too.
Over in the Media category, RYOT CMO Molly Swenson gets a nod. This 360 video company made headlines for making headlines in April 2016 when AOL and parent company Verison acquired it for over $10 million to start making 360 degree content for The Huffington Post. Huffpost RYOT now provides comedy and news shows to Hulu among other content. Expect to see great things from Swenson and co as 360 video continues to grow in prominence this year.
Last but not least we get to toot our own horn a little bit. Upload co-founders Taylor Freeman and Will Mason, noted in the Media category, are both included in this year’s list. Between the site you’re reading now, our co-working space in San Francisco, and VR education initiatives, Upload has seen tremendous growth over the past two years and we have many of you to thank for that.
Congrats to all those selected! We can’t wait to see which fresh faces represent the VR industry in next year’s list.