×

Virtual Worlds Startup High Fidelity Lays Off 25% of Staff, Pivots to Enterprise Communication

High Fidelity, the virtual worlds startup led by Second Life founder Philip Rosedale, laid off 20 staffers, or about 25% of its staff, this week. Rosedale said in a blog post that the company was changing course to focus on enterprise communication, and blamed lower-than-expected VR headset adoption for the decision.

“If you had asked me when we started the company in 2014, I’d have said that by now there would be several million people using (VR headsets) daily, and we’d be competing with both big and small companies to provide the best platform—but I was wrong,” Rosedale wrote.

“Daily headset use is only in the tens of thousands, almost all for entertainment and media consumption, with very little in the way of general communication, work, or education,” he added.

High Fidelity launched as a kind of VR-based successor to Second Life in 2016. The company pitched its platform as open and decentralized, giving artists and others a chance to create their own virtual worlds. It also briefly experimented with original content production, ordering a season of a VR talk show exclusively for High Fidelity.

Now, High Fidelity wants to focus on virtual world meeting spaces for teams and enterprises. These spaces don’t have to be used with VR headsets, with users also being able to join with regular PCs, and headphones for 3D audio.

Popular on Variety

In a post geared towards developers, High Fidelity further explained their reasoning for the pivot: “At the moment, there just aren’t enough people using VR headsets to sustain a business that makes a little money from a lot of users. There will be, but it will take a few years. In the meantime, we need to focus on a more specific use case for VR.”

High Fidelity shut down its own public spaces in its virtual world effective immediately, but the company will continue to support third-party developers who are working on their own spaces. High Fidelity will also continue to support its marketplace, which is powered by an in-world currency based on Blockchain technology.

The company raised around $73 million from funders including IDG Capital, Vulcan Capital and True Ventures.

More Digital

  • HQ Trivia

    HQ Trivia Lives? CEO Claims He's Found Potential Buyer for Live Game-Show App

    Hold the phone, HQties — there might be a second act for HQ Trivia. The once-buzzy live game-show app, whose audience had declined after peaking two years ago, shut down last week after the company ran out of money and a deal to sell it fell through. Now Rus Yusupov, CEO of parent company Intermedia [...]

  • Dolan Twins

    Dolan Twins to Launch Their First Podcast (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Dolan Twins, sibling digital influencers who have a combined following of more than 50 million across internet platforms, are set to launch their first podcast: “Deeper With The Dolan Twins.” The new weekly podcast from 20-year-old Ethan and Grayson Dolan is being produced under an exclusive pact with Cadence13, a division of Entercom Communications’ [...]

  • Justin Bieber Changes album cover

    Following Lil Nas X, Justin Bieber Track Is Latest to Highlight Online Marketplace

    A shout-out on social media from Justin Bieber has brought some additional shine to Splice Sounds, the popular platform for rights-cleared sounds and beats. The track “Running Over,” from Bieber’s album “Changes” and featuring Lil Dicky, was produced by The Audibles and is based on a loop created by British artist Laxcity and uploaded to Splice. [...]

  • LadBaby at Abbey Road Studio, London,

    Facebook Leans on Local Creators to Grow Watch and Hit New Target Areas

    As Facebook leans into sports, non-scripted and select scripted properties, it’s increasingly looking to an army of creators rather than A-list celebrities to tap into all three target areas as they grow businesses on the Watch platform. Facebook’s newly appointed head of entertainment media partnerships for Northern Europe Anna Higgs tells Variety, “The Watch strategy [...]

  • Apple-Coronavirus

    Apple Warns of Sales Shortfall for March 2020 Quarter, Blaming Coronavirus Outbreak

    Apple said the spread of the coronavirus in China has disrupted iPhone manufacturing and driven down sales in the country. As a result, the tech giant said it now expects to undershoot the revenue guidance it previously provided, of between $63.0 billion and $67.0 billion its fiscal 2020 second quarter (which ends March 28). “Work [...]

  • Jeff Bezos

    Jeff Bezos Forms $10 Billion Fund to Fight Climate Change

    Multi-billionaire Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person, announced a $10 billion fund to invest in projects that will combat the alarming trend of climate change. The Amazon founder and CEO announced the formation of the Bezos Earth Fund in an Instagram post Monday (Feb. 17).⁣⁣⁣ According to Bezos, the fund will begin issuing grants this [...]

  • Jake Paul

    YouTuber Jake Paul Launches Entrepreneur How-To Platform, Financial Freedom Movement

    YouTuber Jake Paul wants you to be financially free, for $19.99 a month.  At a rally on Saturday, the content creator — along with influencer friends and around 50 teenage and tween-age fans, some chaperoned by parents — launched the Financial Freedom Movement (FFM) in partnership with GenZ Holdings Inc., a Los Angeles-based brand development [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content