Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake & More Invest Millions in Virtual Reality Startup Sandbox VR
Also on the list are Hollywood super-agent Michael Ovitz and Kevin Durant.
Hong Kong-based virtual reality startup Sandbox VR has closed an $11 million funding round, bringing the company’s reported total to $83 million in 2019 following a Series A round earlier this year.
Led by Craft Ventures’ David Sacks and Andreessen Horowitz Cultural Leadership Fund, the funding round includes Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Will Smith and Orlando Bloom among a celebrity-packed group of new investors.
Also on the list are Hollywood super-agent and CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz; Japanese soccer star Honda Keisuke; Kevin Durant and his manager, Rich Kleiman; and The Dreamers Fund, which was launched by Keisuke and Smith.
“We’re incredibly honored to be able to work with some of the most talented and influential artists, athletes, and actors in the world,” said Sandbox CEO and founder Steve Zhao. “Their support is a vote of confidence that our platform will one day become the new medium for the future of sports, music, and storytelling.”
Sandbox, which uses motion capture technology to create immersive virtual reality experiences, raised $68 million in a Series A round earlier this year from investors including Andreesen Horowitz, Floodgate Ventures, Stanford University, Triplepoint Capital, CRCM and Alibaba.
As the new funds roll in, the company is expanding across the U.S., with a new location in Los Angeles and offices coming soon to New York, Austin, San Diego and Chicago for a total of 16 locations planned by the end of 2020.
“We believe that VR is finally ready to take off as a mass-market phenomenon in malls, where it can be optimized for a social experience,” Sacks added. “We chose the Sandbox team because of their background in game design; their VR experiences have a level of interactivity — with both the VR world and other players — that we couldn’t find elsewhere. We believe that Sandbox VR is poised to become the first VR experience for millions of consumers around the world.”
Sandbox doesn’t currently offer any music-focused experiences, but the virtual reality concert industry is growing. Billie Eilish and Post Malone have streamed shows with VR concert series Oculus Venues, London-based startup MelodyVR held its first live broadcast with Liam Payne late last year, and Live Nation has teamed with NextVR to broadcast dozens of concerts in virtual reality.