NAB 2016: Virtual Reality Is Growing, and Investors Waiting Until It Matures

Complete Coverage: NAB Show 2016

In the first quarter of this year, investors and venture capitalists have pumped $300-$400 million into the virtual reality business, the same amount of money that was invested in the last half of 2015.

That’s according to an estimate from Marco De Miroz, general partner of The VR Fund, Wednesday during a NAB Show panel about the VR business. While that’s a good and rapidly escalating chunk of change, DeMiroz said his company “doesn’t want to invest in any big epic titles because there’s no market for it yet.”

Related: On the Front Lines of Live Virtual Reality

Like other VR panels at the NAB Show, the room was packed and some of the advice carried over from session to session. In the VR business panel, the audience heard the bifurcated advice: There’s a business growing but it’s still down the road--but not too far down the road. And as one speaker advised, a VR entrepreneur's ability to hang in there correlates very closely with his or her ability to succeed.

But the panel seemed to agree that start-ups should only be lightly funded mainly because entrepreneurs are likely to spend every dime they get, and too much money means they won’t feel they have to look hard for business plan deficiencies just at the time they should be.

Related: VR’s Mainstream ‘Tipping Point’ Years Away

The VR landscape “is a testing ground right now,” said Brandon Zamel, CEO and cofounder, Springbok Entertainment. He said that only the well defined pocket VR has been able to exploit--the $100 billion gaming business was an early landing spot for virtual reality.

But the market for expensive VR productons is "18 months to 30 months away,” said internet pioneer Halsey Minor, CEO and chairman/cofounder of Reality Lab/Voexulls, who started CNET back in 1993, was a lead investor in Grand Central (now Google Voice) and is now innovating in the VR space. 

“VR is only an introductory concept,” Minor said.

Related: Study—Three VR Headsets Will Dominate Revenue