Animation is a core pillar of consumer media, generating $200B globally each year, compared to the $600B spent on US entertainment annually. Franchises like Universal’s Despicable Me and Pixar’s Toy Story popularity hinge the story’s universal appeal.

Virtual Reality presents an ideal medium for creative storytelling

When consumers put on their virtual reality headsets, they gravitate toward the best animation, cinematic, live event and gaming content available. Comcast Ventures has invested in NextVR, the leader in live VR sports and concert experiences, AltSpaceVR, the leader in social communication and now, we are excited to announce our investment in Baobab Studios, a VR animation content and technology company.

Animation fits naturally with VR, because it combines immersive storytelling with real-time interaction. Unlike cinematic content which needs to be pre-rendered, VR animation can be designed with full creative control. Real-time rendering allows a film director to tailor a story based on the audience’s participation, a feat not possible in film before the advent of VR. Imagine "Choose Your Own Adventure", where an animated story changes based on where you physically turn, look and move in a virtual reality world.

Baobab Studios’ founders Maureen Fan and Eric Darnell bring deep expertise from the gaming and animation industries. Maureen served as VP of Games at Zynga where she managed several studios including the FarmVille sequels. Eric Darnell is a 20-year veteran of Dreamworks PDI and the Director of movies such as Madagascar and Antz. They are joined by senior engineering talent from across the technology and animation world, including studios such as Pixar and Dreamworks.

"We’re excited to be working with Gavin, Michael and the team at Comcast Ventures. The team was the natural choice to lead our Series A with their understanding of VR, distribution and content. We look forward to collaborating with Comcast NBCUniversal," says Maureen Fan, CEO and Co-Founder of Baobab Studios.

Baobab Studios’ first animated short, "Invasion" is now available in Samsung Gear VR. The company plans to work with HTC to distribute its movies on the Vive platform in the coming year. Comcast Ventures is joined by Samsung Ventures, HTC, Advancit Capital, Chernin Group, TheBoxGroup, Peter Thiel, Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus and other angel investors in Baobab Studios’ Series A financing round.