Above: Amitt Mahajan of Presence Capital loves VR. Image Credit: Dean Takahashi
Presence Capital — one of the earliest venture capital firms to focus on virtual reality and augmented reality startups — is today announcing that it has made 33 investments.
That’s a lot of investments for a fund that was announced in December 2015. Presence Capital has invested in Baobab Studios, Bigscreen, Harmonix, Nomadic, Meta, Resolution Games, Scope AR, Strivr, TheWaveVR, and Visbit. While Facebook bought Oculus in 2014, Presence Capital contends that its was the first VC fund to focus on VR/AR. Six of its investments are in game companies.
“A little under two years ago, Paul Bragiel, Phil Chen, and I started Presence Capital so we could be at the forefront of the platform shift to VR and AR, while helping entrepreneurs who are just as passionate as us about this space,” said Amitt Mahajan, managing partner at Presence Capital, in a statement. “This milestone is a huge reward in our journey that is really just taking off.”
Before Presence, Mahajan was the founder and chief technology officer of MyMiniLife (which Zynga acquired) and the founder and CEO of Toro (which Google grabbed). While at Zynga, he co-created the hugely popular game FarmVille and served as the CTO of Zynga Japan. Before his entrepreneurial work, Mahajan was an engineer at Epic Games on the Unreal Engine and Gears of War. He was also founding engineer at Fig, the crowdfunding and equity funding platform for indie games.
Mahajan said the average investment size is around $200,000. Rival funds include the Venture Reality Fund, which has raised $50 million, and the Boost VC accelerator, which makes lots of smaller investments and also puts money into areas such as cryptocurrency.
“There are many cases that we’re the first check into a company,” Mahajan said in an email. “We’ve helped entrepreneurs put together the rest of their seed round by helping set terms and making investor intros.”
As to the VR and AR industries as a whole, Mahajan said, “We see a lot of what’s happening in the space, and because founders are so heads down on their piece of the puzzle, our 10,000-feet view can help provide context for strategic decisions, like which platforms to target or where there may be underserved customers.”
Chen was previously on the founding team that created the HTC Vive, the VR headset based on Valve’s SteamVR technology.
Chen said, “It has been amazing to be a leader within an industry that is so dynamic and has the potential to change the way we do just about everything — from entertainment to games, working, learning, socializing, and more.”
He noted that VR is creating real productivity gains in mental health, particularly in apps related to pain management, autism treatment, and overcoming phobias.
Before joining Presence, Bragiel founded three startups and started five funds across four continents, including being an early adviser to companies such as Uber and Unity. Collectively, he had invested in seed rounds for more than 150 companies, which includes holdings in billion dollar companies like Unity and Zappos.
“We absolutely love supporting and empowering the many entrepreneurs that are truly pioneers in the industry and helping it become mainstream, and look forward to helping many more,” added Bragiel, in a statement.