2016 was a big year for all of us at UploadVR. What began as a local meetup group and one-man blog has now grown into a multifaceted, strategic organization that we now call Upload, Inc.
The name might be different but our mission remains the same: to promote, accelerate and cultivate the VR/AR industries in everything we do. Today, in that spirit, we are announcing two big shifts in our staff as the co-founder of Upload, Inc. and Editor-in-Chief of the UploadVR editorial site, Will Mason, moves on to the role of President. Replacing Will as EIC and Head of Media is Tal Blevins, a man with the experience, drive and awesome facial hair necessary to take our journalistic efforts to the next level.
Hail to The (New) Chief
In the ’90s, Tal joined some little site called IGN when it was still owned by Imagine Media. During his tenure there, IGN was spinoff from Imagine and Tal helped to co-found what is now known as IGN Entertainment: the number one games, entertainment and pop-culture media brand in the world. In 1999, Tal became IGN’s editor-in-chief before becoming its editorial director in 2001 and its VP and Publisher in 2006. He served in that role until 2016 and is now joining our ranks as UploadVR’s new EIC.
Tal comes pre-loaded with tons of great features, including deep industry contacts, great media experience, the ability to lead a growing team and dope earrings.
Tal answered a few questions about this new gig and his answers will shock, amaze and inspire below:
Before taking this job what in your career are you most proud of?
Tal: I joined IGN in the late ‘90s before it was spun off from Imagine Media and helped build IGN Entertainment into the #1 games, entertainment, tech and pop culture-focused media brand in the world. I’m overwhelmingly proud of the effort my team and I at IGN put into the site over the past two decades, and humbled to have led something that resonated so loudly with our fans.
Why did you take this job?
Tal: What interested me most about joining UploadVR was being at the forefront of the next wave of a technological evolutionary leap. The VR and AR industry is fairly small now, but the implications of what’s happening today will resonate and amplify for decades to come. These technologies will be far-reaching and universal, and I get to see it all from conception! How cool is that?
I’m also excited about everything that UploadVR is doing around the enhanced-reality industry, from education to connecting talent to collaborative co-working to the media side. It’s really unique to see such a multi-angle approach, and it helps to give broad insight and perspective into the industry as a whole.
Tal: I’ve been interested in VR since I saw my first demo in the early ‘90s. Back then it was unusable utter crap with vomit-inducing refresh rates, but I saw the potential even then.
VR is so emotional, so transformative. There are some incredible experiences out currently, but I can’t wait to see what kind of VR content and applications will be available in 2, 5, 10 years. It’s going to be mind-blowing! I mean, it’s going to be a real Fantastic Voyage! Just think about when you go in for surgery and a doctor injects you with nanobots, straps on a headset and sends those little robot bugs through your blood vessels to rebuild your heart valve, scrape plaque from your arteries or zap cancerous tumors. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s inevitable, and will happen sooner than most people imagine.
It’s so exciting to be here at the start of what is now rather niche technology, but something that will be an omnipresent part of our everyday lives in the near future.
What will be your first orders of business as uploads new EIC?
Tal: My first order of business will be to learn as much as I can. I know a lot about what’s going on in the games and entertainment side of VR and AR, but I’ll admit I need to expand my horizons in health care, neuroscience, transportation and all the other industries that AR, VR and MR will touch – and by that, I mean ALL of them. It’s daunting, but very exciting!
What can people expect from the “Blevins Era” of UploadVR? Any big changes?
Tal: Honestly, I’m still deep in the absorption and learning stage, and I’m not looking to make any radical changes. UploadVR is already the premiere site for VR, AR and MR content, so I’m not here to muck anything up.
Will and the rest of the content team here have done an incredible job at speaking to both industry insiders and fans of VR and AR, so I want to continue that tradition, grow the site beyond where it is now and introduce a whole new viewership to what VR and AR can do.
How can readers get in touch with you?
Tal: Folks should check out the site and let us know what they think in the comments. You can also hit me up on Twitter!
What do you want the readers to specifically know about your vision for the site?
Tal: I want to be a champion of the industry, but also an advocate for consumers. We’re here to help anyone and everyone navigate and discover new experiences in the worlds of VR, AR and MR — whether they’re hardcore VR enthusiasts, casual observers, or don’t even own a headset yet — so our content is grounded, accessible and easy-to-understand.
I also believe that enhanced-reality applications are some of the most immersive, emotional experiences available, so I want our content to match the emotional intensity of the platform.
Thanks to The (Old) Chief
With this new beginning there is also an end as our founder and longtime editor-in-chief Will Mason moves on to become president of Upload Inc.
Will started this site by himself two years ago. He wrote every story, took every picture, conducted every interview and gained our initial audience one reader at a time. He is known within our team as a master of puns, a smith of headlines and the owner of one of the deepest VR/AR rolodexes known to man. This site was born out of Will’s ability to connect with people and it was shaped by his desire to keep them informed. He may no longer have a direct role on this team, but his mission — to grow the VR/AR industry through fast, accurate and informative journalism — is what the rest of us will continue to pursue until there is a VR headset in every house or we die. Whatever comes first.
To the readers, both old and new, Will has a message for you all:
The last two years have been the most interesting years of my life. I’ve made more friends seen more interesting things, and been inspired more times than I ever have at any point in my life. Moving on from media for me, I see not as a goodbye but as a way to learn a new language to speak to you all with.
For a while now, I have been behind the camera filming the documentary that is VR and AR but now I am ready to step into a participant role for the industry. I look forward to working with all of the people I’ve come to meet and call friends, grow the industry hands-on and make hundreds and hundreds of new friends as well. The editorial side of things will always remain close to my heart so you’ll still see my byline every now and again.
Thank you all for reading, thank you all for inspiring, thank you all for everything you’ve done to make the last two years the best of my life. I look forward to the journey we will take together into the future.
There are few people in this world I would feel comfortable handing the keys of UploadVR over to, this is my baby, but Tal is one of them. He’s a genuine, honest, brilliant thoughtful human being and I think he will take careful custody of our industry going forward.”
As president, Will is going to focus on strategic vision for Upload Inc. alongside business development and partnerships. The next big project for him and the Upload Inc. team will be launching UploadLA: a massive, 20,000 square foot co-working space for VR/AR companies in Los Angeles. The space opens this April in Marina Del Ray and signups are open now.
A very sincere thanks is owed to all of you that have helped us grow to this point. We can’t wait to build something even better together in the years to come!