Pixvana, a virtual reality (VR) technology startup, launched today with a $6 million investment led by Madrona Venture Group with participation from Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital, and angel investors. Pixvana is developing a cloud-based technology platform that dramatically improves the immersive video viewing experience for VR and augmented reality (AR) applications across a broad set of viewing devices, and is coming to market in 2016.
The founding Pixvana team has been deeply involved in digital video and entertainment content production, delivery and software platforms for more than two decades. Headed by successful entrepreneur and digital media exec Forest Key, Pixvana is solving the challenges inherent in creating and delivering high quality VR and AR video.
“It is clear that just as in the early days of web video, which was hard for consumers to configure on their devices and often stuttery and unsatisfying to watch, VR video is facing similar challenges,” said Forest Key, Pixvana CEO. “I couldn’t be more excited to work with this incredible team as we make VR video a reality for content producers and crucially, make viewing video on VR headsets a profoundly magical experience for consumers.”
Also investing in the company are notable angels including former Microsoft Developer Tools division executive S. Somasegar, and aQuantive co-founder Mike Galgon, both of whom will join the company’s board of directors, along with Porter.
The Pixvana founding team brings together singular experts in software platforms, visual effects, video production, codecs and content creation with the business expertise to build a meaningful company.
• CEO Forest Key started his career in visual effects (VFX) at Lucasfilm. He was later central to the success and evangelism of the two most important web-based video technologies, Flash and Silverlight. Key has also built and sold two successful companies, most recently buuteeq, a cloud-based solution for hotel marketing and customer management that was purchased by Priceline in 2014.
• Chief Product Officer Bill Hensler has driven the consumer- and business-facing products in the digital image industry for both Apple and Adobe. Most recently he was Sr. Director of Engineering at Apple for photo apps and imaging technologies, and at Adobe he was the Chief Technologist of Creative Suites and oversaw engineering and R&D for all video products.
• CTO and Creative Director Scott Squires is a Sci-Tech Academy Award winning digital visual effects pioneer and software innovator. At Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light and Magic, Squires was the CTO who led the company’s transition from analog film to digital production technology, and was a three-time VFX Academy Award nominee for his work on several feature films including Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace.
• VP of Product Management Sean Safreed is the co-founder of film and video software company Red Giant whose products have been used by thousands of filmmakers and designers. Safreed has developed go-to-market strategies for dozens of professional media and entertainment software tools.