HTC launches $100 million virtual reality fund


The burgeoning virtual reality industry is all about creating simulated realities, but for VR startups focused on the HTC Vive, things just got a lot more real.

HTC has announced the launch of Vive X, a $100 million fund designed to foster the growth of VR startups around the world.

“Virtual reality is changing the world, yet to do that effectively it needs a healthy ecosystem to expand into the mass market,” Cher Wang, CEO HTC, said in a statement released on Tuesday. “Through HTC Vive,

we look forward to enabling global talent to create interesting and compelling content and to help shape the future of this industry

we look forward to enabling global talent to create interesting and compelling content and to help shape the future of this industry.”

With offices in San Francisco, Beijing and Taipei, the fund will be devoted to all manner of VR startups, including accessories makers, content creators and, of course, apps.

The company is framing the initiative as a global VR accelerator and, beyond what it means for existing and new VR startups, it demonstrates that HTC is seriously committed to making real inroads in VR. The HTC Vive isn’t just an also-ran experiment.

And that’s an important distinction.

With heavyweight Facebook backing the Oculus Rift, backed by billions and the world’s large social network and Sony’s PSVR coming later this year, HTC’s competition in the space is significant. But while the company is known more for its mobile phone products, by some accounts the Vive offers the best overall VR experience of all the VR headsets currently available. That likely won’t be enough to make the device a success, but by plunging $100 million into companies supporting the device, it may improve its chances.


HTC Vive user during the 1st TES conference held by of Alibaba Group in Hangzhou city, east China’s Zhejiang province, 11 April 2016.

Nevertheless, such grand acts of financial might are never a guarantee of anything when it comes to new markets. Back in 2013, Google famously teamed up with several major venture capital firms to support Google Glass-oriented ventures, but just a few years later, Glass has largely disappeared from the public’s consciousness.

But the difference here is that HTC’s fund is helping to power a technology being embraced by a wide array of interests, from Hollywood to the gaming industry.

None of that will guarantee the Vive a seat at the VR table as it truly takes off in the next couple of years, but it does put the company firmly in the middle of the action, even if its headset struggles to catch on in the face of stiff competition.