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Jim Darrin, center, president of Valence Group Inc., is flanked by Adam Sheppard, left, and William Lai, right, of 8ninths. (Valence Photo)

8ninths, a small Seattle-based virtual and augmented reality studio with big visions, has been acquired by Valence Group Inc., a company focused on helping enterprise customers apply next-generation technologies in innovative ways.

Valence, with offices in Seattle and Bellevue, Wash., said that 8ninths will form a cornerstone pf its digital transformation business, alongside other technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotics, voice, and more. Details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The 10-person 8ninths team, based in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, will be joining the existing Valence team. Co-founders Adam Sheppard, CEO, and William Lai, president, have been focused on virtual and augmented reality for the past four years, with clients including Microsoft, Samsung, Oculus, Facebook, HTC, and more.

8ninths recently helped create an immersive, 4D experience to show off what it would be like to stand on the Space Needle’s new rotating glass floor.

“We are thrilled to welcome the 8ninths team to the Valence family,” Jim Darrin, president of Valence, said in a news release. “At Valence we focus exclusively on digital transformation technologies and their application to help drive real business results for customers. It is clear to us that forward thinking companies will accelerate their deployment of next-generation experiences using these new platforms like Microsoft HoloLens, Oculus Go, Magic Leap One, and more. The 8ninths team brings us more capacity and expertise to help scale our business, and Valence provides them expertise in other areas to advance their existing customer engagements.”

Sheppard and Lai were recently awarded an Emmy in the Outstanding Digital Innovation category for their work on “Capturing Everest,” a 360-degree virtual reality documentary experience.

Sheppard told GeekWire that as the studio has been focused exclusively on the enterprise augmented and virtual reality market for the last four years, they’ve seen an increasing demand.

“As our company grew, we realized that more and more customers were focused on a much larger mission than just augmented and virtual reality — they were focused on transforming their business entirely and thinking through this ‘digital transformation’ idea,'” Sheppard said. “We now see a lot of roles like ‘chief digital officer,’ ‘chief innovation officer’ and others that are focused on a broad set of transformational technologies — more than just AR/VR.”

Sheppard said that Valence has been focused on this digital transformation market at-large, and sees the enormous opportunity in the AR/VR space.

“Valence saw an opportunity to accelerate their business by adding more size, scale and expertise in this AR/VR technology area by acquiring 8ninths,” Sheppard said. “And we saw a chance to bring new technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, IoT, voice, and more to our customers — areas Valence has been working in and around for some time. As such, and after partnering for the last year or so, it became clear that joining together would be a great fit for both companies.”

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