Check out Immersive Media’s website, and the first image you see is singer Taylor Swift pitching her Emmy-winning interactive 360 video called The Taylor Swift Experience.
Not the usual fare for a company largely based in Washougal.
But Immersive Media, a pioneer in creating the Google Street View videos, is working in the big time and is likely to make an even bigger splash as the result of its recent acquisition for $100 million by Digital Domain Holdings, an interactive media company based in China with studios in California and Vancouver, B.C.
Immersive will be the host of this year’s first session of Grow Clark County, a series of business networking events sponsored by the Columbia River Economic Development Council and other business advocacy organizations. The event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the company’s offices, 1700 Main St., Suite 248, in Washougal. Registration is $10 in advance at www.credc.org and at the door. Visitors will have an opportunity to learn about and observe the company’s virtual reality technology.
The Washougal office provides engineering for the company’s apps and multimedia products. Tom McGovern, the company’s vice president, said the company now has about 22 local employees and expects to increase its staff under its new ownership.
While Taylor Swift’s video, which won an Emmy Award last year, is a showcase, Immersive also works on other high-profile projects, including the New York Times’ new virtual reality app, McGovern said.
McGovern said it had been working with Digital Domain for about one year as the larger company sought expertise in virtual reality. The purchase deal closed last Dec. 31.
“It is a full acquisition, bringing our team into the fold,” he said. “It’s not changing anything. We will stay here and we will continue to develop virtual reality tools.”
Max Ault, CREDC’s director of business growth and development, said the company fit this year’s Grow Clark County focus on locally based technology firms. While Immersive is a small firm, the company makes an impression with its high-profile work, he said.
“The Hollywood connection is part of the draw,” he said.
Immersive was founded in 1994 and has gone through a series of ups and downs. McGovern and his brother Myles purchased the company in 2011 and moved it’s local operations from Portland to Vancouver. In 2014, the company moved east to Washougal.
Under its previous ownership, the company was best known for its work on Google Street View images. Its three-year contract with Google required drivers to cruise down thousands of streets in Volkswagen Beetles with 360-degree cameras attached to the car roofs to record images for Google’s websites.
CREDC launched Grow Clark County last year as a new initiative to replace the old PubTalk networking and business showcase event. The economic development organization will host four Grow Clark County events this year.