Vrideo announced November 21 that it is shuttering its 360 video aggregation website and app, which had more than 700,000 installs. The ambitious site raised an initial funding round of $2 million in early 2015 from investors including Machinima co-founder Allen DeBevoise, Betaworks and Lerer Hippeau Ventures. Vrideo was apparently unable to raise any additional funding since, and simply ran out of money.
While 2016 will be another record year for VR venture funding, there have been a small number of companies have had to close their doors this year. Other notable shutdowns of 2016 include:
- SEPTEMBER 2016 ROTHENBERG VENTURES
The venture capital firm opened in 2012 and has invested approximately $40M in a range of 81 technology startups including AltspaceVR, FOVE and Matterport. Rothenberg Ventures was consistently recognized as one of the primary investment firms for young VR companies. Beginning in July, it was reported the firm was under investigation by the SEC, following several executive departures. In September 2016, the firm rebranded as Frontier Tech Ventures.
- OCTOBER 2016 MAXPLAY
Less than two years after spinning out of Technicolor with $17M in funding, MaxPlay announced that it was laying off the majority of its workforce and focusing on licensing the remainder of its technology.
Although Vrideo joins several predecessors in the VR startup graveyard, but other companies continue to plow the path, with different models (WEVR, Disney and A+E Networks-backed Littlstar, and Jaunt, which has raised around $100 million). Of course, YouTube and Facebook have both already put a lot of resources behind becoming a platform for 360 video.
Ultimately, Vrideo's real legacy may be that it was a laboratory that helped new 360 video creators experiment with early best practices. In the past year, a number of useful, imaginative and fun 360 videos were debuted on the platform. Check out what Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders' campaign released in July 2015 via Vrideo.
Here’s the note that Vrideo CEO Alex Rosenfeld composed for its dedicated followers:
"We’d like to thank, first and foremost, all the content creators who have shared their videos on Vrideo. You guys are the true pioneers, and the work you’re doing has inspired us.
We’d also like to thank all the users who have downloaded our apps and viewed content on our platform. Your enthusiasm has kept us motivated through many late nights and long weekends. Finally, we’d like to thank the investors and advisors who have supported us as we ventured out into a very nascent and unproven industry.
The past few years have been a wild ride. When we first started working on Vrideo, Facebook hadn’t yet acquired Oculus, Sony hadn’t announced “Project Morpheus,” and Google wasn’t even talking about VR. It’s been a privilege to play a role, however small, in the emergence of this new medium. We’ll be rooting for all of you who continue to carry it forward."
Let me add a personal postscript. It seems to me that people have been less critical of Vrideo than other sites, in part because of goodwill for Rosenfeld, and some of the great people he brought into the young company. For sure, anyone would want to be friends with these people. But what we saw was that content creators, the tech journalists and even investors suspended their critical facilities and basically became a rooting section. (I may be a little guilty of that also.)