Limitless, a virtual reality startup created by a former Pixar and Bungie character designer, has closed its first round of seed funding from investors including music and film producer Jay Rifkin, who worked on “The Lion King” film’s original score; and Masi Oka, a game startup leader and former Industrial Light & Magic digital effects artist better known as the character Hiro from the NBC series “Heroes.”
The Seattle-area company, which earlier this year launched a platform for creating interactive virtual reality characters, says the funding round was oversubscribed, and they had to turn away some investors. An SEC filing indicates that Limitless raised a total of $805,000 in the round. A company spokesperson says the funding round was close to $1 million.
Rifkin and Oka will join the Limitless board of advisers in conjunction with their investments. Limitless identified the other investors as GAEA, The Venture Reality Fund, Colopl VR Fund, Social Starts, CRCM Venture Capital, Sparkland Capital, Mission and Market, and Nick Rau, a senior vice president of engineering at Nielsen, who was CTO of the acquired startup Vizu.
“We believe fundraising is about finding good partners, and we are very excited at the great people we have in our seed round,” said Tom Sanocki, founder and CEO of Limitless, in a news release announcing the seed round. “We are working with the leading VR funds, a combination of US and international tech VCs, game-focused investors, and experienced angels.”
During his 11 years at Pixar, Sanocki was responsible for characters including Kevin the bird from the movie “Up” and Mater from “Cars”. After Pixar, Sanocki moved to Bungie, where he worked for nearly four years on real-time characters for the game “Destiny.”
The idea behind Limitless is to let anyone create interactive VR characters and stories, including film companies, advertisers, educators and regular consumers.
“Just like we saw with YouTube and Twitch, we don’t know what people will do with new technology until they actually do something with it,” Sanocki told GeekWire in March. “By providing a platform for people to put characters into their worlds — to have you be a part of their story, just like they’re a part of yours — people will use it for things we can’t predict now.”
Limitless debuted its technology at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, along with a VR experience produced on its platform by the company’s first publicly-announced customer, the VR film company Motional. In the experience, a character named Gary the Gull asks questions and, using Limitless technology, understands user responses, reacting based on a preset script, depending on what users say and do.