PortalOne raises $15M from Atari and more for a new hybrid gaming/TV show app – ClearTips

PortalOne raises $15M from Atari and more for a new hybrid gaming/TV show app – TechCrunch

Gaming and streamed video have been two of the biggest pastime winners of the epidemic over the past year. Today a startup has created an app that brings those two entertainment formats together, announcing a notable seed round funding as it prepares to come out of the closed beta.

PortalOne, a hybrid gaming startup, is announcing a $ 15 million funding round as it prepares to come out of a closed beta with an app that lets people play on-demand games and watch live shows Can play against special guests.

The startup and its funding are notable because of who is investing.

It includes attic and camera makers ARRI, Founders Fund, TQ Ventures (a company led by Scooter Bron and financiers Suster Tanger and Andrew Marks), Cotu Management (notably Ariel Zuckerberg), Rose Capital Partners (new fund of Alice Lloyd George), Cygnia Venture Are included. Partners (via Sunny Dhillon), Seedcamp, Talis Capital and Sn ures Ventures out of Europe.

Other investors included Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin; Mike Morheim, co-founder of Blizzard and Dreamhaven; Amy Morheim, co-founder of Dreamhaven; Mark Merrill, co-founder of Riot Games; XL Lagetan, former CTO and executive advisor at various companies such as Hulu; And Eugene Wei, former head of video at Oculus and head of product at Hulu.

PortalOne is a part tech startup and part media company. On the one hand, it has built a full stack of hardware and software over the past three years that can be used to create games, record live shows, and integrate both into an experience that is both on-demand and real-time Gaming combines both entertainment and entertainment.

The co-founder and CEO said, “One of the advantages of building first is that what we are doing is very difficult to do on a technical level.” Baird Anders Kasin. “The way we do it is the key. This is our secret sauce. “

On the other hand, it is using that technology to build gaming and live event platforms and brands – providing space for itself and third parties to create large live experiences around games. It believes that it has managed to do something that has kept others apart for years.

“We come from the entertainment industry and have also been in the game for many years,” said Stig Olav Kasin, Baird’s brother and other co-founders (and chief content officers). “We’ve all talked to big companies and know that hybrid gaming is difficult in combining games and TV,” at least not in companies where separate groups “own” TV and gaming.

The Oslo-based company has so far been running a pared-down in the early version of its service in the US and Norway – two games so far, one called a blockbuster, in which well you throw a huge ball and knock on the block. Is included, and another remaginated version of Centipede – set out of a living room with the same talk show that is actually all computer-generated on a green screen.

Users can play and watch all of this through a VR headset or phone, and they win “prizes” for doing well in gaming competitions. In addition, PortalOne will sell virtual goods, as companies such as Fortnite still do today.

The plan is to launch the first iteration of its service in a broader way – PortalOne Arcade, an 80s-themed, old-school arcade game reimagined as multiplayer, jointly immersed with interactive talk shows Experience – Expanding to other markets earlier this year in the US and Norway.

Bayard Anders Kassin – who previously created the VR company and worked as a technical director at Warner Bros., has been making films like “The Matrix” trilogy – and Stig Olav Kassin – who worked with his brother on V.R. And before that a media like show was implemented “sound” And “who wants to be a Millionaire?” – PortalOne established in 2018.

Between then and June 2020, when PortalOne launched its closed beta, the startup’s focus was on its technology and its content strategy and building early partners.

From the voice of, it was no small task. Its tech stack incorporates virtual reality, computer vision, gaming technology and software and hardware to stream and stream video, significantly reducing the resources needed for both, among other IPs. Some of it was created by PortalOne himself; In other areas it worked with Ari, a major player in motion picture camera equipment, who created a new kind of 3D camera for PortalOne.

Part of the challenge of tackling PortalOne has been the very process of creating content for the hybrid platform as it was conceived.

Typically, recording of obsolete experiences is complex and expensive because the volumetric equipment used is the setup of the studio needed to capture the experiences, which include Hollywood film studio size, staffing, and cost.

PortalOne’s success has been to turn that process into something that can be produced more easily and at a much lower cost, essential “since we have daily shows and we scale more daily shows for each game and Want to mass produce, ”said Beard.

In the PortalOne setup, in addition to the host – a sociable Norwegian with a mostly American English accent named Marcus Bailey – and his guest, the only two others involved, the technician-producer triggers the effect and controls when talking to the action switch. Does the game and back again.

With larger sets than before and dozens of people in need, “Now we can do all this in a studio the size of YouTube,” Bård said.

On the content front, PortalOne is building its games, but is also tapping into an old-school gaming aesthetic, it said.

Not only is Atari investing, but it has signed a seven-year agreement with PortalOne, which gives exclusive global distribution rights to some of its most popular arcade game franchises, which PortalOne remodel and rebuild for its hybrid platform Has been doing.

Baird said the company also intends to work in the fields of music, sports, travel and education to produce other sports. (Braun may not have access to Taylor Swift here, but he pulled in Justin Bieber for the promo video, and possibly more.)

“As distribution and business models evolve, large-scale opportunities continue to emerge in the interactive entertainment space,” Kirill Tasilov, a principal at Talis Capital, said in a statement. “PortalOne is redefining mobile by unlocking new hybrid experiences at the intersection of games and video, and we are thrilled to be a part of their journey.”

Blurring the lines

In some ways, what PortalOne is doing is not entirely new, because the lines between what the game is, what is interactive, and Linear Entertainment have been blurring for decades.

You could argue that the game show, too, one of the earliest TV formats, was an early stage in hybrid interactivity, although people who helped create the stig helped create the sting that helped make the stig More modern programs like, definitely pushed using the phone. Conceptualization in new ways.

The coronavirus epidemic and the fact that so many in-person live events were canceled, meanwhile, certainly paved the way for content players to think outside the box when creating new types of “live” shows Came to be With Marshmello receiving a huge response for his Fortnite “show” in 2019, the game saw 12 million people at its Travis Scott concert last year; And Roblox said that its show with Lil Nas in December would pave the way for future events.

“When we see virtual concerts inside TikTok, Roblox and Fortnite, it’s great, but PortalOne offers an evolution of interactive metwater entertainment – it’s real-time, one-to-many among gamers around the world The interaction is all in a mobile-native hybrid game format, ”said Dhillon, a partner at Cygnia Venture Partners.

Yet if well-established platforms really pick up on the trend, then PortalOne has built what they support. But they can also possibly produce their own live game show, and blow PortalOne out of the water as if they are dipping their toes.

This is also where building tech while spending your time can prove to be either a boost or a stir. Gaming is a notoriously difficult one to call when it comes to resonating and picking up with the audience, and so will likely be the experiences that surround those games.

Kevin Lynn said, “The next big social platform will likely be a convergence of media with gaming at its core – which is a truly new immersive interactive experience – and PortalOne is a big contender to become such a platform.”

In fact, if PortalOne gets an audience that it is building, it will have the tools to serve them more ingredients efficiently and cheaply. But if it does not strike the right note, the question will be how and if that technique will be used otherwise.

For investors right now, it is more about the opportunity.

“PortalOne continues to develop, integrating the world of gaming and entertainment to create a single interactive experience and endless opportunities for content creation,” Braun said. “Producers and artists alike want new and innovative ways to liven up their craft, and PortalOne is meeting demand that no other business has. I am excited to work with the entire team So that they can realize their trailblazing vision. I’ve never seen anything like this before. “

Dalian Asparov, a head of the Founders Fund – for another reason, in today’s news, his role in paying great attention to Miami as a new tech hot spot – also thinks building the infrastructure and technology in tandem with the media element Will give startup a lot of runway.

“We consider companies that are most likely to become leaders in the global category,” he said in a statement. “PortalOne creates a new category as well as platform which is clearly set to dominate that new category. The market is mature, the opportunity is clear, and the potential is unlimited. PortalOne is set to make before and after in the industry. “

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