The latest Drax Files Radio Hour drew my attention to new that Philip Rosedale’s newest venture, High Fidelity, this week gained a further round of investment capital.
Whether the latest round represents new investors or those already involved increasing their stake or a combination of both, remains unclear. However, the amount pushes the total level of investment into High Fidelity received close to some $5 million, including the $2.4 million obtained in April 2013 from Linden Lab, Kapor Capital, Google Ventures and True Ventures. Not bad for a company often referred to as “flying under the radar”.
Since Facebook’s move on Oculus VR, there has been a lot of speculation as to what might be next for the acquisition bag – and whether it could be Second Life. I’m not that convinced on the latter. But what about High Fidelity? In terms of Facebook, there might seem to be something of a fit – of not right now, then potentially down the road a bit.
Mark Zuckerberg, in describing his future vision for VR talks grandly in terms of “social VR” – VR which promotes “real” interaction and communications and which has real-world applications. That’s pretty much the space High Fidelity seems to be aiming at. I say appears, because High Fidelity seems to have a finger in a lot of idea pies, but most of the talk is in generalities rather than specifics when it comes to product(s).
But given this commonality, and given High Fidelity is building on the kind of cool, sexy hardware – including the Rift, which apparently will work “out of the box” with whatever High Fidelity is / will be – it’s likely to have more of a bleeding-edge golly gee appeal than the decade-old, over-the-hill and decidedly unhip Second Life. Indeed, where it gets reported in the media, it already has.
Philip Rosedale is also something of a known quantity to one of the key players in FB’s acquisition of Oculus VR: Cory Ondrejka. They co-founded Second Life together and worked together as CEO and CTO until a difference on opinion separated them – and I assume that difference wasn’t enough to prevent them ever working together again. High Fidelity itself has attracted some of the key technology players from LL as well, who will also be known quantities to Ondrejka.
There’s also the matter of timescales. Facebook, as I’ve mentioned previously, seem to be jumping into the VR market-to-be for the long haul, they’re content to let Oculus VR test the waters for them in the gaming arena while looking towards more distant potential markets (and better, lighter and more ergonomic headsets that a broader cross-section of consumers will find attractive). As such, the slowly, slowly approach High Fidelity appears to be taking could synchronising rather nicely with FB’s approach.
Of course, this is all predicated on a number of things: exactly what it is that High Fidelity really has, how it fits a bigger technology picture, etc., right through to matters of equity stakes and controlling interests in the company. However, in this latter regard, were High Fidelity to demonstrate they have something FB could leverage, it’s pretty clear that Facebook has the financial clout to make a deal worth everyone’s time.
At the very least, might be interesting to see where things go with any third round of investment into High Fidelity in the future …