Former Rdio CEO Drew Larner has landed a new gig at Vrse, the virtual reality startup co-founded by renowned music video director Chris Milk. In conjunction with the appointment, Vrse also announced financial backing from Andreesen Horowitz, WME, Live Nation, Vice Media and others.
Vrse (which is pronounced like “verse”) is best known for its virtual reality (VR) documentaries, including “Clouds Over Sidra“, an immersive short film about a Syrian refugee camp. The company has also collaborated with Spike Jonze and Vice, the New York Times and “Saturday Night Live”.
Larner was Rdio’s founding CEO and headed the Spotify competitor from 2008 until 2013. Before that, he was managing director at Europlay Capital Advisors, an investment company linked to Skype and Rdio co-founder Janus Friis. Previously, he as executive vice president for Spyglass Entertainment.
Larner said that he had an aha-moment about virtual reality when he gave his six year-old son a demo. Seeing how much his son was immersed in the experience convinced him that “VR is going to be the next platform where people consume media,” as he put it during an interview this week.
Vrse is only one of many companies trying to make a mark in a space that has yet to find significant traction with consumers, in part because headsets from companies like Oculus and Vive aren’t available for sale yet.
But while some companies try to tackle everything from the construction of cameras to the production of content, Vrse tries to stay more focused. “We are not a hardware company” Larner said, adding: “We want to produce the highest-quality professional content.” Larner explained that Vrse wants to dive deeper into narrative content in the coming months and establish itself as a distribution platform for premium content.
That could one day include selling content in some fashion or another, but Larner argued that it the right monetization models for VR content are still to be determined. “It’s something I’m wrestling with every day,” he said.
Vrse didn’t disclose the amount of seed funding it has raised so far, but said Thursday that backers also include YouTube co- founder Steve Chen, Raine Ventures, Marker LLC., Tribeca Enterprises, Annapurna Pictures, Legendary Pictures, and Elisabeth Murdoch’s Freelands Ventures.