I just had a VR meetup with some friends from college on AltspaceVR, it was a blast and we talked about doing it again next month. Then news broke last week that Altspace was closing down, which came as a huge shock to me since, as a VR early adopter, I always saw AltspaceVR as one of the main pioneers in social VR.
For quite a while now huge media companies have been testing out VR and Altspace has been one of the main platforms they’ve been using to test the VR waters. Literally just last week ESPN was using the social VR service to interview a football player in virtual reality.
Everyone at Thursday night’s interview with Kansas City Chiefs placekicker Cairo Santos had a front-row seat. That’s because the interview was held in virtual reality (VR), and everyone tuning in with a VR headset had the sensation of being only a few feet away. (Source – SportsVideo.org)
Now there’s a chance that Palmer Lucky, the founder of Oculus will jump in to save the company which he hinted at in a poll on Twitter yesterday:
I was actually surprised that only 66% of people were in favor of him coming to the rescue as I’d imagine this to be a pretty heavily supported move but maybe there are some politics around AltspaceVR that I don’t know about. Apparently the reason why Altspace is shutting down has to do with their next round of funding falling through.
Some have speculated that Facebook’s entrance into the Social VR space might have cooled investor’s interest in putting dollars towards startups in the space. This would make Luckey’s move all the more interesting since he used to work for Facebook and likely knows quite a bit about what they are doing/planning to do in the Social VR space.
At the end of the day though, I’m guessing AltspaceVR’s situation is more complex than that. I still think there are plenty of investors out there that still think Social VR has a bright future outside of whatever move Facebook makes. Honestly I’m still in shock here so I’ll probably reach out to some people at AltspaceVR to see if anyone wants to share a bit more about what happened.
Still, it Luckey comes in to save the company, that could be a very interesting move, let’s see what happens.