Virtual-reality startup Jaunt has hired former Hulu executive Jean-Paul “JP” Colaco as its first chief revenue officer. In that position, he is now tasked with turning Jaunt, which has raised more than $100 million from Disney and others, into a moneymaker.
Colaco told Variety earlier this week that he always liked to dabble in the intersection of technology and media, and that VR may just be the next big thing for both.
“VR is going to be transformative,” he said, adding that he was also happy to join up with both Jaunt founder Arthur van Hoff and the company’s new CEO, former Hearst exec George Kliavkoff. “The team is really high-caliber.”
Most recently, Colaco was working as senior VP of advertising and business development at Vessel, the online-video subscription startup founded by Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar. Vessel was acquired by Verizon in October. Before that, he worked for six years for Hulu, when the video service grew from zero to $500 million in annual ad revenue.
That experience has shaped how Colaco is now thinking about monetization for cinematic virtual reality. “You want consumers to embrace the new technology,” he said, arguing that advertising is the best way to generate revenue in these early days of the medium.
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That may change down the road, Colaco allowed. “I do believe that there will be opportunities to distribute [VR] content on a paid basis,” he said. For Jaunt, opportunities could include both licensing content to the likes of Amazon, Netflix or YouTube, as well as eventually going direct-to-consumer.
Asked about lagging sales of VR headsets, Colaco said that “VR is more than headsets,” with 360-degree video being a kind of “gateway drug” for the new medium. However, he also said that he expects headset sales to pick up in the future. “All the metrics are moving in the right direction.”
Jaunt was launched in 2013, and developed its own VR camera, app platform and cloud back-end. More recently, the company has focused on the creation and distribution of cinematic VR content. Last month, Jaunt announced that it will produce and distribute a serialized remake of the 1992 sci-fi feature film “Lawnmower Man.”