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Google Ventures Invests in Cinematic Virtual-Reality Startup Jaunt

Google Ventures is taking a stake in virtual-reality technology startup Jaunt, which is building a system for 360-degree 3D viewing of movies, TV shows and videogames.

The funding from Google Ventures, the Internet giant’s independent and non-strategic VC arm, is part of a $27.8 million Series B investment round in Jaunt led by Highland Capital Partners. Also participating in the round were previous investors Redpoint Ventures, BSkyB, Dolby Laboratories chairman Peter Gotcher and Sling Media co-founder Blake Krikorian. The latest investments bring the startup’s total funding to approximately $35 million.

Earlier this summer, Facebook closed the $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR, a maker of virtual-reality headsets and related technology, with the social giant viewing VR as potentially the next huge communications and entertainment platform. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last month said the company will “invest heavily” in development of the virtual-reality technology.

Jaunt’s cinematic VR system, which lets users look around in any direction, captures video using algorithms and computational photography. According to the startup, the tech lets directors and videographers create cinematic VR experiences using the same editing and production software they already use.

As a part of Jaunt’s funding round, Highland partner Alex Taussig will join the company’s board, which includes Redpoint’s Tim Haley, Gotcher, and board observer Stuart Murphy, director of entertainment channels at BSkyB.

“Jaunt has done something incredibly rare in creating a completely new platform for media and entertainment,” Taussig said in a statement. “With Jaunt’s fully integrated solution, the diversity of applications for cinematic VR is limited only by the imagination of the creative professionals pursuing it. I am thrilled to be joining the board of Jaunt and helping the company achieve its massive potential.”

The company has lined up team of advisors that includes Amazon VP Babak Parviz (previously one of the leaders of the Google Glass wearable-device initiative), Imax chairman Brad Wechsler, actor-musician Jared Leto, director Mark Romanek and Bernd Girod, professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University.

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Jaunt was founded in 2013.

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