Virtual Reality Startup 8i Raises $13.5M in Series A Funding

Samsung Gear VR Headset H 2015

Virtual reality startup 8i has announced $13.5 million in Series A funding from a group of investors led by RRE Ventures, Founders Fund Science, Horizons Ventures, Samsung Ventures, Dolby Family Ventures, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Sound Ventures, Signia Venture Partners, Inevitable Ventures, Freelands and Advancit Capital.

With a total of $14.8 million raised to date, 8i is developing a software-based VR system aimed at both Hollywood and consumers that would enable users to create, play back and share 3D video for VR, as well as for augmented reality or the web. This would include the ability to convert video from off-the-shelf cameras into these experiences.

8i — with bases in Wellington, New Zealand and San Francisco — is also opening a studio in Los Angeles’ Culver City, where it plans to give professional filmmakers or enthusiasts access to its production studio, as well as offer community events such as workshops, demonstrations and introductions to the technology.

"As the Internet transitions to 3D digital reality with adoption of virtual reality and augmented reality platforms, we want to give people the best way to connect in this new medium," 8i founder and CEO Linc Gasking said, adding that with 8i's system of photographing people for use with these platforms, "viewers report an authentic feeling of emotional connection, as if you’re in the room with the person you’re watching."

The 8i team has been closely watched in Hollywood’s emerging VR space, as it includes alums of companies including Weta Digital, DreamWorks, Digital Domain and Industrial Light & Magic.