Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.
- Walt Disney
Everyday you can read about a new advancement in mixed reality technology. Whether it’s Google Glass, Oculus Rift, ARKit, ARCore, Magic Leap, or even Snapchat Lens, it seems like there is always a story about a new technology that is going to drive mass adoption of mixed reality. At Maveron we are students of consumer. We love bleeding edge technology (without which none of this magic could exist), but believe that true adoption will come when the technology itself disappears, and instead consumers are left with a blurred line between the real mundane world and the impossible. A world where colorful storytellers, dungeon masters, and brilliant technological wizards seamlessly integrate magical creatures, mysterious objects, and fantasy into the real world. It is this alchemy that sets the stage for everyday people to finally taste the real power of mixed reality, once again remembering why they never wanted to grow up in the first place. We see a world where mixed reality fundamentally changes the face of entertainment and gaming. And we believe this will all happen through your phone.
Today, we are thrilled to announce our investment in Illumix. Illumix is an integrated gaming and technology company transforming the future of mixed reality with environmentally-intelligent, world-scale augmented reality (AR) games. We are incredibly excited to partner with Kirin Sinha and her team at Illumix as they officially emerge out of stealth mode and build a leading consumer brand at the intersection of mobile gaming and spatial computing.
Here are some of the highlights of why we are especially excited about our investment in Illumix:
1. Right founder, right team. As early-stage investors, we are always thinking about founders first, and Kirin is exactly the right leader to build this company. A Marshall Scholar with degrees from MIT, The London School of Economics, Cambridge, and Stanford, Kirin is one of the brightest minds in computer vision. She is obsessed with all things Fandom, Pop Culture, and Fantasy. As a self-proclaimed “fan of math, creating the impossible, and badass women,” Kirin founded SHINE, a non-profit at the intersection of math, dance, and STEM that has grown into a national movement impacting hundreds of girls. We see in Kirin a very special founder with just the right amount of vision, imagination, and drive to build a world-class team that can push the limits of what is possible in AR, and most importantly that can synthesize this technology to dramatically change the fundamentals of the mobile gaming experience.
2. Mixed reality is coming, and entertainment will be at the forefront. At Maveron, we are strong believers in extended reality (XR), or what we largely define as spatial computing, and we believe that it will fundamentally change entertainment. Even with so many early challenges of consumer virtual reality (VR) being plagued by bulky hardware, expensive costs, and clunky experiences, most industry experts continue to forecast that the AR/VR market will reach the mainstream within five years and that the total market size will exceed $100B by 2022.
We believe that spatial computing, or the world around you being enhanced with digital augmentations, will be the way consumers communicate, create, enjoy, and interact. Truly immersive entertainment experiences have the potential to form a much deeper emotional connection with consumers — but the common thread is that these experiences are fundamentally different from past experiences, and all the old rules need to be reinvented from the ground up.
3. Leaders in this shift to spatial computing will be new players. Rarely are the incumbents able to adapt to new platform shifts in gaming, and we believe that during these platform shifts, the teams that understand both fundamental differences in the new customer experience, as well as the nuances and limitations of the new technology have a huge advantage getting out in front. Massive companies like King, Supercell, and Epic sprung out of the shift to mobile, and we believe that a new generation of gaming giants will emerge as consumers again change behavior in AR.
4. The mobile AR adoption rate will happen significantly faster than that of fully immersive VR. Perkins Coie’s 2018 Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey reports that two-thirds of respondents expect the AR market will surpass the VR market in revenue and that more than half believe it will happen within three years. We are starting to see this shift to AR, and we agree a category disruption is on the horizon.
Without the need to purchase dedicated hardware devices or glasses, mobile AR works through the phones that people already own. Thanks to big investments in platforms such as ARKit and ARCore, coupled with a 30-month phone replacement cycle for iOS and Android, there will be almost a half billion AR-compatible smartphones by the end of 2017 and 3.4 billion by 2020. Most of all, consumers don’t need to learn new behaviors; already today, consumers spend a lot of their time in the real world holding their phones up in front of themselves, whether they are playing Pokemon GO, using Insta and Snap face filters, or just taking another selfie.
Maveron has been investing in a breath of XR companies for quite some time now. Our portfolio includes social VR applications, location based out-of-home VR experiences, VR games, XR fitness, VR e-sports, and a variety of other consumer AR applications. We’re excited to add another investment to the mix; one that combines mobile gaming and spatial computing to provide users with a collaborative, engaging experience.
At Maveron we invest in bold entrepreneurs pushing the limits of where humanity meets technology and who are working tirelessly to build companies that can fundamentally change people’s lives. In Kirin, we met the perfect entrepreneur to build the defining consumer brand in mixed reality gaming, where users create and build the worlds of their fantasies in real life.
Welcome Kirin and the entire Illumix team to the Maveron family!