Video Tech Veterans Raise $6 Million for Virtual Reality Streaming Startup

Seattle-based Pixvana has raised a $6 million seed round of financing from Madrona Venture Group, Vulcan Capital and others to build a cloud-based virtual reality video (VR) streaming solution. Pixvana’s team came together just three months ago, but the company’s CEO Forest Key told Variety that he intends to deliver real solutions to studios and others looking for VR streaming technology soon. “We intend to be in the market next year,” he said.

The team behind Pixvana isn’t exactly new to the streaming game: Key began his career at Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic, and later worked on Flash video at Adobe and Silverlight at Microsoft. The company’s chief product officer Bill Hensler was most recently senior director of engineering for Apple, and previously oversaw engineering and R&D for video products at Adobe, and CTO Scott Squires used to be the CTO of Industrial Light & Magic and worked on visual effects for films like “Star Wars: Episode I”.

SEE MORE: Samsung’s Gear VR Shows A Lot of Potential, Still Best for Early Adopters

Key said in an interview with Variety last week that he experienced “a profound sense of magic” when he tried HTC’s Vive VR headset for the first time. But he also quickly realized that there is still a lot of work to do to make VR mainstream, which includes video delivery technologies. Right now, users often have to download very large files to make VR video experiences work. Apps that do use streaming often deliver images at a very bad quality.

Consumers are bound to be disappointed if they get to see blurry, washed-out images when they try on VR headsets for the first time, he argued. That’s especially true because 4K video is already a reality in people’s living rooms. “The bar has been set very high for VR,” he said. Key said that streaming quality was one of Pixvana’s first priorities, but he didn’t go into details on how his company wants to improve video quality for VR headsets.

Pixvana isn’t the only company looking to improve VR video streaming. Facebook has been doing work in this area as well in order to improve the video quality on its Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR headsets.


Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Andrew MorseVariety's Entertainment & Techonology Summit,

    Listen: CNN Digital Chief Says Trump Doesn't Drive Traffic Success

    No subject might get as much attention across CNN’s digital properties as Donald Trump, but that doesn’t mean the news network is dependent on him for web traffic. Andrew Morse, executive VP and general manager of the AT&T-owned company’s digital operations, pointed to recent coverage of natural disasters and international incidents as more potent audience [...]

  • Jonah Hill attends the press conference

    Instagram Debuts Jonah Hill’s ‘Un-filtered’ Bullying Docu-Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Facebook’s Instagram, as part of its anti-bullying initiatives, funded a new series directed by Jonah Hill featuring teens and young adults talking about their experiences with bullying. The four-episode “Un-filtered” goes live Wednesday (Sept. 18) on Instagram’s IGTV channel on its mobile app and the web. In the unscripted series, Hill interviews people aged 13-25 [...]

  • Plex

    Plex Signs Up Lionsgate for Upcoming Ad-Supported Video Service

    Media center app maker Plex has struck a deal with Lionsgate to add some of the studio’s movies and TV shows to its upcoming ad-supported video service. The news comes just weeks after Plex announced a similar deal with Warner Bros. “Lionsgate is one of the biggest names in the business and we know our [...]

  • Comcast Xfinity Flex

    Comcast Drops $5 Monthly Fee for Xfinity Flex Video-Streaming Set-Top for Broadband Customers

    Comcast will hand out one free set-top box for broadband subscribers to access Xfinity Flex, its video-streaming product for internet-only customers, as it looks to punch up the value of its high-speed internet business. Brian Roberts, Comcast’s chairman and CEO, announced the new strategy at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia conference Wednesday in New York. “One of [...]

  • Facebook Portal TV

    Facebook Announces $149 Portal TV Device, 2 New Portal Smart Displays

    Facebook wants you to put a camera into your living room: The company officially unveiled its Portal TV device Wednesday that brings video chatting, augmented reality (AR) and Facebook Watch to any TV set. In addition, the company also unveiled two new Portal smart display devices that are aggressively priced to grow the company’s home [...]

  • Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, South

    Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series to Shoot in New Zealand

    Amazon Studios has set New Zealand as the location for its upcoming series production of “The Lord of the Rings,” following in the footsteps of the movies made by Peter Jackson. Pre-production on the series has started, and production on the series will begin in Auckland in the coming months. “We knew we needed to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content