Jaunt Inc. Launches Virtual Reality Venture in China

Jaunt Camera Rendering - H 2015

Jaunt Camera Rendering - H 2015

The Palo Alto-based startup has partnered with the influential state-backed investment groups China Media Capital and Shanghai Media Group.

Palo Alto-based virtual reality firm Jaunt Inc. has established a joint venture in China with Shanghai Media Group and China Media Capital, two of the country's most influential state-backed media and entertainment investors.

The partners say the China venture is already operational and producing Chinese-themed VR content aimed for a global audience.

"Initial programming will include VR content such as The Voice of China, virtual tours of Shanghai and music from the band SNH48," the partners said Tuesday in a statement. Jaunt says it also will tap SMG and CMC's content libraries to create VR experiences across travel, adventure, narrative, music and sports.

Additionally, SMG is taking a stake in Jaunt's U.S. business, investing an undisclosed sum. CMC invested in Jaunt last September, joining The Walt Disney Company and Evolution Media in a $65 million funding round.

“We are thrilled to partner with SMG and CMC to be the first U.S.-based company to launch a full-scale, end-to-end virtual reality production and distribution platform in China,” said David Anderman, chief business officer for Jaunt. “With the establishment of Jaunt China, we are well-positioned to meet the demand for premium VR content from a rapidly growing international audience.”

The Chinese VR market is expected to grow by 36 times in the next four years to 55 billion yuan ($8.5 billion). China's "big three" web giants — Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Baidu Inc. — have all been seeding dozens of local VR startups and setting up proprietary content platforms.

Jaunt has developed its own professional-grade VR camera, which is integrated with a cloud-based rendering and processing service. Last month, the company partnered with Paul McCartney on a six-part documentary series and produced original content for Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame Tour. The startup's investors include The Walt Disney Company, Google Ventures, Sky and Dolby chairman Peter Gotcher.

China Media Capital, chaired by Ruigang Li, is the local investment partner to many Hollywood brands in China. Its investment portfolio includes stakes in Imax China, Oriental DreamWorks and Warner Bros.' Chinese film studio, Flagship Entertainment.

Shanghai Media Group, formerly headed by Li, has a portfolio spanning print and digital media, live and filmed entertainment, e-commerce, tourism and gaming. It is one of the key investors in Walt Disney Co.'s $5.5 billion Shanghai theme park, set to open later this month, and also has strategic partnerships with Viacom, BBC, Amazon AWS and others.