Social VR Companies
Brief updates on individuals and organizations that own the major Social VR Platforms comprising the early Metaverse.
This deceptively simple platform has expanded what it has to offer far beyond watching movies with friends who aren’t there. Not that watching with friends who aren’t there isn’t pretty cool in itself. And movies are still clearly the main thing. Some you can watch for free, some you pay for, if you are so inclined.
And if you don’t want to be entertained, you can be productive, in the special productivity rooms where you can view your laptop with others, presumably colleagues, present. Not bad. Get some work done then go watch a movie.
Like several other Social VR Companies, Doghead Simulations began with a focus on education and developed its own award-winning platform, Rumii.
Its founder and CEO, Mat Chacon, is an advisor to U.S. government agencies on spatial computing and built an impressive business by meeting the platform needs of clients such as the U.S. Air Force and Booz, Allen Hamilton.
This independent, VR-only company was launched by David and Sandra Whelan in 2015 as VR Education Holdings. Located in Waterford, Ireland, maxed out credit cards and help from the ‘Enterprise Ireland’ entrepreneur program have turned into a major success story.
Now a publicly traded company on the London Stock Exchange, ENGAGE XR is still focused on education, which is a great focus in the early 2020s.
Facebook is an ad-serving platform. It is easy to present ads to people while they are looking for cute kitten videos.
Virtual Reality is nothing like checking posts on a mobile device and it is not clear where and how ads will be involved.
Facebook has multiple VR-ventures, from Social VR platforms — like Venues, Workrooms, Home and Horizons — to the Oculus headsets — to all the VR production studios they are acquiring.
Horizon Worlds is the leading edge, or it should be.
The company name comes from squishing micro computers and software together, which is how the company started, in 1975, making an OS for IBM’s PC.
Microsoft famously missed mobile and it’ll be darned if it’s going to miss VR, and AI for that matter. AltspaceVR was a 2017 acquisition and its role in Microsoft’s long-term spatial media game plan is not clear. Despite its history and position among the leaders in Social VR, AltspaceVR is a tiny piece inside a $2 Trillion giant.
There may be no more confusing ownership situation in all of VR than the Mozilla Foundation’s ownership of Hubs. Briefly, the Mozilla Community emerged out of Netscape, the dominant web browser of the mid-1990s. Open Source software was the mission and the Mozilla Foundation owns the open source Firefox web browser and manages many projects under its umbrella.
Hubs is one of them. Hubs is what happened when AltspaceVR died for a while in 2017. Part of the original AltspaceVR team, seeing how work could be compromised by corporate forces, joined Mozilla as an Open Source project. A larger project involving broader XR initiatives was terminated in August, 2020, but Hubs remained intact.
The developer and publisher of the Wander VR app does not have an obvious web presence. Inspection of public corporate records shows an incorporation date of July 5, 2018 and a Registered Address of 6133 CLARENDON ST, Boston, MA.
Another public data bases tracking Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans show the company was approved for a $21,250 loan on April 15, 2021, which saved two positions.
What or Where is Parkline Interactive?
October 12, 2021
What’s confusing about the company is that the public records show several other entries after April, 2021:
- Addition of Corporate Officers Kyle Rand and Thomas Neumann, May 7, 2021. Rand and Neumann are co-founders of the VR Company Rendever.
- Dissolution of the Corporation, June 30, 2021
The Wander VR app is part of Alcove, an AARP VR platform also connected to Rendever. I still don’t know exactly who started Wander VR, but it looks to me like the app is now part of a larger Alcove/Rendever strucfture, but I could be wrong.
The three Os stand for the three dimensions of space for this standards-based product focusing on Virtual Events, from small to very large scale. Rooom calls itself a self-service platform for producing events that play in headsets, in web browsers, and on mobile devices.
The Rooom ExperienceCloud is key development which allows Rooom to support entire Trade Expos, with hundreds of companies and thousands of attendees, including ancillary elements such as publicity, registration, tracking and evaluation.
SideQuests are a rich gaming trope, referring to supplemental activity that can range from dull padding to unexpected challenges. SideQuest is also a supplement — an alternative to Facebook’s carefully curated Oculus Store and it’s anything but dull.
Developer’s want to make stuff for the Oculus Quest, but they have to take a loyalty test before they can even get started on the path into the Official Oculus Store. Only two days after the Quest was released in May, 2019, there was a side door.
Facebook left it ajar with the USB slot and a couple in Belfast, Shane and Orla Harris walked right in. The problem they were already addressing was testing — how could developers easily check their work in any prototype stage with Facebook’s tight control?
The Harris’ already had a test bed for developers that turned into an ‘early access’ source for courageous consumers, which they were able to develop into a source for cutting edge VR apps.
Spatial was founded by technologist/designer/entrepreneur Anand Agarawala and Jinha Lee in 2016 as an enterprise meeting platform, quick and easy. Simple spaces are available in VR, in a desktop browser, and on mobile to talk and share media.
It’s unique proposition was ease of access and learning. Lots of companies make that claim and I haven’t investigated all of them. It took me less than five minutes to download Spatial in VR and launch a meeting there that I easily joined on my laptop and my phone. That’s impressive.
Meanwhile, many artists have discovered that Spatial’s free pricing tier with a Gallery World all set-up is exactly what they need to display NFTs and sell them. Now considered the Airbnb for NFTs in VR, users are re-inventing the platform .
VirBELA is located in the Qualcomm Institute Innovation Space located at the University of California, San Diego and has its roots in the field of Organizational Psychology. The name stands for Virtual Business Education Leadership Assessment.
It was acquired in 2018 by eXp World Holdings, a rapidly growing residential real estate brokerage.
One of the oldest VR Companies, VRChat was founded in 2014 by Graham Gaylor and Jesse Joudrey.
Despite or maybe because of its reputation for alternative self-expression, the platform is thriving. It has attracted over $90M in venture funding, most of which came as recently as June, 2021