VR/AR Startup Penrose Studios Raises $10 Million From Will.I.Am, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, Others

Penrose Studios, a pioneering and award-winning virtual-reality animation house, has banked $10 million in Series A funding led by TransLink Capital with participation from investors including Will.I.Am and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.

Other investors include Sway Ventures (formerly known as Accelerate-IT Ventures), which led Penrose’s seed-round funding of $8.5 million in 2016, along with Korea Telecom, Co-Made, 8VC, and Suffolk Equity.

Penrose was founded in 2015 by CEO Eugene Chung, who was previously head of film and media at Oculus VR. The company has produced several films and also has developed its own software to create augmented-reality and virtual-reality content.

With the funding, Penrose plans to recruit more engineers and artists; focus on “ways to elevate AR & VR as storytelling platforms, through continued partnerships and events”; and continue to invest in its in-house native AR and VR tools, Chung wrote in a blog post.

“AR & VR are inherently immersive, and our experiences have increasingly become more social and interactive over time,” Chung wrote. “Increasingly, our team is hiring from the video game world. The unique challenge is blending the best that the worlds of film and video games have to offer.”

The San Francisco company’s original productions have included “Arden’s Wake,” a fantasy tale about a young girl’s adventures in a post-global-warming oceanic world, which won the first award for best VR at the 2017 Venice International Film Festival. On the technology side, Penrose’s native AR/VR creation tool Maestro picked up the 2018 Interactive Innovation Award at South by Southwest.

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