PitchBook analysts say 119 virtual reality startups either raised money or were acquired in 2015 — a record high for an industry that’s finally starting to feel the love from investors, according to the Seattle-based investment tracking service.
For a long time, VR startups had a hard time pitching their companies because the VR industry just didn’t quite have the push it needed to go mainstream, said PitchBook analyst Nizar Tarhuni. Before founders could get anywhere close to explaining their business models, first they had to convince to venture capital firms that VR was real this time.
But that’s not such a big issue anymore, according to a recent global virtual reality industry report from PitchBook. Its data shows more tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft, Sony and Samsung are getting serious about their VR ambitions, and they’re driving a new level of confidence across the investing community.
We’ve seen that here in Seattle, where Madrona Venture Group recently backed its first VR startup. Elsewhere in the tech universe, news broke this week that Google-backed Magic Leap is looking to raise $827 million at a $3.7 billion valuation.
Pitchbook’s report on the state of VR investing found that nearly $4 billion has been invested in VR companies around the world since 2010, with more than half of that coming in the past two years. So far in 2015, there have been 119 deals, a 16 percent increase over last year.
Facebook’s $2 billion Oculus acquisition last year skews the total dollars invested, but Tarhuni said there’s still a clear trend of strong growth.
Another promising sign, the report notes, is the variety of places where the money is coming from. Venture firms still lead the pack, but corporations, hedge funds and private equity investors are also starting to get involved.
“This time they’re ready,” Tarhuni said of the investors pumping money into the startups betting on virtual reality. “They think it’s real and all the components are in place to get that network effect.”