Pixvana uses virtual reality to make pitch to investors

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SEATTLE — Virtual-reality headsets aren’t yet in every home, but Seattle startup Pixvana plans to be ready to stream all types of 360-degree videos by the time they are.

Pixvana said last week that it netted $14 million from some high-profile investors including Vulcan Capital and Microsoft Ventures — after pitching the business to them using virtual-reality headsets and a custom video.

The company develops software that allows companies to edit and stitch together videos to create all-encompassing media for virtual reality and augmented reality. In the last two years, it has worked with the Seahawks and Pacific Northwest Ballet to create sweeping videos that appeal to fans and art lovers.

Virtual- and augmented-reality technology is in its early years, Pixvana CEO and founder Forest Key admits. But, as he points out, it took a few years for the iPhone to catch on widely as well. He expects someday it will be common for people to have headsets at home.

“When we look back in time, it’s clear that breakthrough technology doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

Pixvana operates somewhat in the middle of companies shooting video and those making the actual hardware for headsets. Its software enables videos to have 360-degree views and delivers them to headsets.

Key likens Pixvana’s place in the market to merchants during the West Coast gold rush. “We’re in (Seattle) selling pickaxes and shovels to the people going to the Yukon to mine the gold,” he said.

Pixvana, which has a team of 24 people in the Fremont neighborhood, will use its latest round of funding to market its software more broadly.

Investors in its latest financing round also included Raine Ventures, Cisco Investments and Hearst Ventures.