Virtual Reality (VR) startup Baobab Studios has closed $25m in Series B funding. Led by Horizons Ventures with Twentieth Century Fox and others, this brings total funding to $31m.
The new funding will be used to develop more animated VR movies and grow Baobab on a global scale.
The startup has also announced an expansion of its executive team. Larry Cutler – technical director for Pixar’s Toy Story 2 and Monsters Inc. – joins as chief technology officer (CTO), bringing deep technical expertise in animation and development. He was Pixar’s, and then became global head of character technology for DreamWorks Animation.
Baobab also has appointed Chris Milk to its influential advisory board. Milk has a long history of creating and inventing innovative products, winning multiple industry awards.
Baobab Studios recently launched INVASION! Episode One, an interactive animated VR movie short narrated by actor Ethan Hawke. Blending both film and gaming, INVASION! is a top-featured download in major digital storefronts, including Oculus, HTC VIVE and others.
Maureen Fan, CEO and co-founder of Baobab Studios, said, “So far we’ve seen record downloads of “INVASION!” by VR users, and our investors see the promise of this type of entertainment.
“The only thing better than launching a new product in an innovative industry is having amazing validation from partners and consumers.”
Baobab Studios was founded by Fan and CCO Eric Darnell in 2015. Darnell is best known for his director and screenwriting on all four films in the DreamWorks Madagascar franchise, which together grossed more than $2.5bn at the box-office.
Fan has held leadership roles in film, gaming, and the web, and most recently as vice president of games at Zynga where she oversaw three studios, including theFarmVille sequels, contributing 40 per cent of the company’s revenues. Previously, she worked on Pixar’s Toy Story 3.
Mike Dunn, the president of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Fox Innovation Lab, praised Baobab Studios. He said, “We are on the cusp of a storytelling revolution with this medium, and VR gives filmmakers the opportunity to develop immersive experiences and take audiences into the story like never before.
“Baobab Studios is an innovator in this space, and we look forward to working with them.”