- Sandbox VR, a virtual reality entertainment startup, is raising a new round of funding, Business Insider has learned.
- Andreessen Horowitz is in talks to invest in the startup, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
- The firm’s general partner Andrew Chen may be spearheading the round.
Sandbox VR, a Hong Kong-based virtual reality startup that licenses its technology to IMAX movie theaters, is raising a significant new round of funding, Business Insider has learned.
Andreessen Horowitz is in talks to invest in the round, according to two sources familiar with the matter. One of the firm’s general partners, Andrew Chen, may be spearheading the investment, according to one person familiar with the talks.
Andreessen Horowitz and Sandbox VR did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.
Sandbox VR, which was previously operating under the name Glo Games, has previously raised $3 million in seed funding from investors including ChinaRock Capital Management, Presence Capital Fund, Mindworks Ventures, and Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, according to Pitchbook data.
The specific amount being raised in this most recent funding round and what it values the startup at could not be learned. But given that the company’s only known previous fundraising was a modest $3 million seed round, Sandbox VR is likely looking for a hefty cash infusion as it seeks to support its partnership with IMAX and to expand its business in a competitive sector.
The Void, another VR entertainment company, debuted a Star Wars VR experience at Disneyland in March.
Headquartered in Hong Kong and led by CEO Steven Zhao, the startup currently offers virtual reality experiences in San Francisco, San Mateo, Los Angeles, and New York, and outside the US in Singapore and Thailand.
The startup currently licenses its technology to IMAX, which offers Sandbox VR experiences in some of its theaters. A 30-minute session costs between $32 and $38, depending on the time of day.
The game experiences take place in specially designed rooms created by attaching four green screen walls to a green screen floor. Customers wear a virtual reality headset connected to a PC that is worn on the players back along with sensors on the feet and arms, an elaborate system that allows multiple people to play through the experiences in the same physical and virtual space. Plastic guns with motion tracking sensors attached are used to shoot virtual waves of enemies. Some experiences even include wall-mounted fans that can simulate wind and motion.
The green screen walls and floor allow the startup to capture video of the players’ experiences that can then be merged together so people can see their physical bodies overlaid onto the virtual world they viewed through their VR headsets.
Last week, Sandbox VR’s chief product officer, Siqi Chen, tweeted a photo of himself playing one of the company’s virtual reality games with Andreessen Horowitz’s Andrew Chen and MixPanel founder Suhail Doshi.
Sandbox VR has generated lots of interest in Silicon Valley in recent weeks. SVB vice president Dan Hardman, SVB managing director Josh Dorsey, Shasta Partner Jacob Mullins, and Coatue managing partner Matthew Mazzeo have all tweeted about their experiences visiting Sandbox VR this month.
Business Insider senior reporter Kif Leswing recently got to try out a Sandbox VR experience, which you can read about here.