by Michael Seibel1/13/2017
About a month and a half ago I tried the new Oculus and was completely blown away. Even though there were clear rough points – expensive computer, not wireless, limited apps – I was amazed. The next morning I had two thoughts:
Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity. I could have used this growing up.
Because VR is so immersive, I can imagine myself spending significant amounts of time (hours) with a headset on, every day. As a result, gaming will not be the only significant use case for VR. My headset will steal time time from other screens (tv/laptop/phone) and as a result there will be an explosion of VR consumer apps, entertainment apps, developer tools, and more.
Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a number of VR companies apply to YC but because of the lack user base it was hard for them to build software. This is about to change.1
If I were starting a company today, I would look at the home screen of my phone and ask how many of these apps will have to be rebuilt for VR and which of the traditional incumbents are going to be too slow to adapt.
If I am right, over the next five years we will see the following:
1. Lower price point and maybe the ability to finance the hardware (like your cell phone).
2. 100 million devices distributed. Without a significant number of users the best founders won’t get serious about building for VR over building for web/mobile.
3. New frameworks. Building and iterating VR apps is going to have to get a lot easier.
4. Large companies solving the primary hardware problems: headset and input innovation plus distribution. I think this might be too expensive for startups to tackle.
The Result For YC
Recently I’ve heard a lot of investors say “There isn’t a whole lot of new stuff to do in consumer. There’s already an app for that.” With VR, there isn’t already an app for that.
I think we are no more than two years away from an explosion of new consumer startups and I cannot wait to start funding them at YC.
Michael Seibel is a Group Partner and Managing Director, Early Stage at YC. He was the cofounder and CEO Justin.tv and Socialcam. Socialcam sold to Autodesk in 2012 and Justin.tv became Twitch.