Eric Romo, the co-founder of AltspaceVR, after selling his social virtual reality startup to Microsoft in October 2017 is now all set to join the competing social VR team at Facebook as its product director, where he will be “exploring how VR can help communities connect.”
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but I left AltspaceVR with confidence that the team is well-placed to continue pushing forward the promise of virtual communication as part of the Microsoft mixed reality ecosystem,” Romo wrote in a Facebook post.
Romo is joining the team that has built Facebook Spaces, a social virtual reality app for chatting and collaborating. It’s likely something you wouldn’t have come across in your daily News Feed scrolling, but FB hopes that they can use the platform to play around with how social media plays out in a 3D space.
Facebook and Oculus work closely together on virtual reality initiatives, but to date their social efforts have seemed to be in different directions, with Oculus’s Avatars system being built for the Rift’s gaming audience while Facebook’s Spaces is more platform-agnostic and designed as an exploratory social tool for the company’s “10-year vision” for making VR happen.
AltspaceVR has been one of the more savvy social VR startups of the past couple of years, and what has benefited it strongly is Romo’s vision. The former CEO’s move was likely already in the cards when the Microsoft deal surfaced; nevertheless, his joining up with Facebook highlights just how much Facebook is into the development VR space.
While AltspaceVR was forced to sell partially as a result of investments in the space getting tougher to come by given its niche audience, Facebook’s devotion to VR shows few signs of slowing down — the company has already invested billions of dollars into the space and is poised to invest even more.
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