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Comcast-Backed Virtual Reality Startup AltspaceVR Shuts Down

Social virtual reality (VR) startup AltspaceVR has run out of funding and is going to shut down its service in early August. AltspaceVR announced the closure late Thursday, inviting its users to a final farewell party in its virtual world on August 3.

An AltspaceVR spokesperson told Variety that the company’s staff of about 40 employees had been on furlough this week, and that their last day will be July 31.

“The company has run into unforeseen financial difficulty and we can’t afford to keep the virtual lights on anymore,” the company said in a blog post. “This is surprising, disappointing, and frustrating for every one of us who have put our passion and our hopes into AltspaceVR.”

AltspaceVR had raised more than $15 million in funding from investors including Comcast Ventures, Tencent, Dolby Family Ventures and others. The company was looking to raise additional capital, but a new funding round didn’t come together as planned. “We’ve been out fundraising but have run out of time and money,” it said in a statement.

AltspaceVR had been building a social VR application that allowed users to meet up in virtual spaces and chat with each other as well as attend virtual events together. Some notable VR events held by the company included comedy nights with Reggie Watts, as well as a recent VR appearance of Bill Nye.

However, AltspaceVR had been facing increasing competition, including from Facebook, which introduced its own social VR app Spaces earlier this year. What’s more, the real-time nature of social VR represented a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem for AltspaceVR, forcing it to rely on the growth of a medium that is still in its infancy. In the end, AltspaceVR only had 35,000 users per month.

The company’s leadership is now looking “at all options to see how to continue the work done at AltspaceVR,” according to its spokesperson. This presumably includes selling its technology and other assets to anyone interested in getting a head-start in social VR.

 

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