The names involved in a just-announced investment in new virtual reality animation company Baobab Studios are interesting — even though the $6 million being put up for Series A funding is pocket change to the elite group.
Comcast Ventures led the round, with support from HTC, Samsung Ventures, Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital, Peter Chernin’s Chernin Group, Elisabeth Murdoch’s Freelands Ventures, Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus, and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Beobab isn’t saying how much each invested, or how much interest or equity they can expect in return.
Still, the support is a vote of confidence in a venture with lofty ambitions. Baobab hopes to become “the preeminent animation studio for VR,” says CEO and co-founder Maureen Fan, who’s former VP of Games at Zynga. Her fellow co-founder is Eric Darnell, who directed DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar and Antz .
“Virtual reality is more than just games,” says Comcast Ventures Managing Director Michael Yank. “In fact, content created for this immersive medium could very well be the killer app.”
With a group of digital Hollywood veterans, “Baobab has one of the strongest teams in VR,” HTC Vive Chief Content Officer Phil Chen says. Indeed, he believes it will become “the Pixar of VR.”
HTC will help to distribute Baobab’s movies. Samsung’s Milk VR service already has a preview of the studio’s animated film Invasion! for the Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR.