VR Animation Startup Baobab Adds $25 Million

by Ian Hamilton • October 18th, 2016

Redwood City-based Baobab Studios closed a $25 million Series B round of funding, bringing the total raised to date by the startup to $31 million and placing the studio among the most highly-funded content startups to emerge with a focus on VR animation.

The startup made Invasion!, a short story about a cute bunny attacked by hapless aliens. The property is already becoming a full-length traditional film to be produced by Roth Kirschenbaum Films. Baobab also announced a second episode in the series called Asteroids!, due out next year.

The funding round is being led by Horizons Ventures with 20th Century Fox, Evolution Media Partners (backed by TPG and CAA), China’s Shanghai Media Group, Youku Global Media Fund and LDV Partners. They join the original investors, Comcast Ventures, HTC and Samsung.

The money will be used to develop more animated movies and add to the 20 people currently working at the company. Baobab was founded by Eric Darnell, Chief Creative Officer, and Maureen Fan, CEO, in 2015. Fan previously worked at Zynga as a vice president while Darnell worked on the Madagascar films. Now the company is adding a chief technology officer, Larry Cutler, who was a technical director at Pixar on Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc. The company also added Chris Milk, the CEO of Within, to its advisory board.

“We make sure that our content is platform agnostic, so it is available for every single platform,” Fan said in an interview with Upload. “We believe there needs to be more content and more reasons to repeatedly pick up the headset.”

Invasion! is available now, and if you haven’t seen it yet it’s definitely worth a watch. Fan said they are also developing tools and technology to produce their animated films, but right now they are just using those tools to assist their own story creation rather than sharing that externally.

“We do absolutely have secret sauce technology we’re developing,” Fan said.

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