The 2-hour wait to see the new Oculus at CES says it all. VR was everywhere at the show. Maven has made one investment in VR so far, and we are looking for more, because 2016 will be the year of VR. One big reason is that Facebook’s Oculus announced pre-orders at the show and sold-out in one day. Sony was showing off their amazing VR gaming platform to arrive later this year and HTC, Samsung, and Google are also racing to bring new products to market. We don’t invest in hardware, but love to predict consumer software trends which rely on new hardware platforms — and the quality of the top software products for VR is already game-changing.

Here’s why we’re betting on VR in 2016:

New Software on Hardware Platforms
In many ways, this reminds me of the iPhone launch in 2007. When I first saw the iPhone, I knew it would change consumers’ lives and we successfully invested in a number of new consumer mobile phone apps like Tango (leading over-the-top messaging app that was recently valued at $1B), Check (a personal finance app that sold to Intuit in 2014 for $360M) and Banjo (recently received $100M investment from SoftBank). New hardware platforms make new consumer software products possible.

I’ve Seen the Experience
I first seriously considered VR more than two years ago. Even in those early days, some of the consumer software was like nothing I’d tried before. For example, in Altspace, it’s truly like being there.  Now that the software and experiences are more mature and much better, things will start to quickly accelerate. So, we’re looking for more game-changing VR consumer experiences to invest in.

Market Validation
We’re bullish on the VR market penetration. Some analysts predict that there will be around 12M headsets purchased in 2016 — and some reports have much more optimistic numbers including nearly 100M to be sold in the next two and a half years.

We can’t predict the future for sure, but we can develop thoughtful hypotheses, do our research, and speak to experts and founders to obtain a better sense of when the market will take off — which is why we’re looking now for new consumer-facing VR software startup investments.

Thanks to my talented Maven teammates, Sara Thomas and Robert Ravanshenas, for reviewing and editing drafts of this post. Follow us on Twitter @mavenvc. 

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