Disney, Creative Artists Back Jaunt Virtual-Reality Venture

  • Total funding surpasses $100 million with $66 million round
  • ABC partnership tracks effort to save antiquities in Syria

Jaunt Inc., a virtual-reality technology and filmmaking company gearing up for growth, raised $66 million from investors including affiliates of Walt Disney Co., TPG Capital and Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency.

The company will use the money to expand its virtual-reality production and improve its camera hardware and software tools, according to a statement Monday. Jaunt also plans to expanding staffing at its Palo Alto, California, headquarters and a new Los Angeles studio.

The funding “gives us a few years runway and enables us to scale up,” Jens Christensen, Jaunt’s chief executive officer and co-founder, said in an interview. Altogether, the company has raised more than $100 million, according to the statement.

Virtual reality has been a focus of both Hollywood and Silicon Valley as entertainment and technology companies look for new ways to excite audiences. The technology gives the user a three-dimensional and 360-degree views of subject.

Jaunt has released concert videos from artists including Jack White and Paul McCartney, and content such as rock-climbing footage sponsored by North Face. Last week it released a video, produced in collaboration with Disney’s ABC News, that documents the work of curators trying preserve Syria’s antiquities amid the country’s civil war.

The video “puts you in Damascus,” Christensen said. “It’s truly objective. There’s no filter between you and what’s going on.”

Jaunt’s videos work with virtual-reality gear like Google Inc.’s Cardboard headset and Facebook Inc.’s Oculus, and are available for free from the company’s website. Christensen said he expects to begin charging next year, part of revenue strategy that includes advertising and sponsorships.

Investors include Disney, China’s CMC Capital Partners and Evolution Media Partners, a partnership of CAA-backed Evolution Media Capital, TPG Growth and Participant Media. Others in the new round include German publisher Axel Springer SE and Madison Square Garden Co. McCartney was an earlier investor in the company, which was founded in 2013.

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