Samsung acquires VRB VR app studio for $5.5M

Efe Udin
Jun 21, 2017

Samsung Electronics has been making positive efforts to be a top player in the world of virtual reality hardware. A few weeks ago, Samsung announced its partnership with BuzzFeed and NowThis, which should attract over 140 pieces of content and 300 million consumers. Presently, information suggests that Samsung may have spent $5.5 million in acquiring American developing studio, VRB which has designed numerous apps for 360-degree content.

One of VRB’s app states that VRB is “a division of Samsung Research America, Inc.” while VRB’s AngelList account shows that VRB was bought over by Samsung on the 17th of April. VRB’s social media accounts have seen some inactivity in recent times. All this points to the fact that Samsung now owns the company and has advertised its acquisition. Co-founder of VRB, Christopher Paretti stated that “VRB was acquired by Samsung, but the deal amount will remain undisclosed,”. However, it is rumored that the actual price may even be up to $5.5million.

Though VRB had a low profile beginning, it was set up by quality professionals. It was founded by CEO Christopher Paretti and Christopher D. Kairalla. The former is a veteran who has a wealth of senior experience from the likes of Nokia, Samsung, Gree and Yahoo while the latter is an assistant adjunct professor at NYU who specializes in video and interaction.

Like other startups, VRB has adopted a multipurpose workflow. It is a social VR platform designed for user expression and communication and also is involved with B2C and B2B products. So far, VRB has two apps to its name which are “social city” (also called VRB Home) and VRBFoto (an app for sharing a 360-degree image). It has also developed a multi-purpose toolkit for VR content creators which is designed for the creation of friendly, real and shareable virtual world.

Samsung’s intentions with VRB are not entirely clear for now but it has retained the creations of VRB. Thus, it is most likely that it plans to continue in the same developmental direction as VRB.  Samsung’s VR products have been doing quite well in the market. In 2016, Samsung’s Gear VR headset sold over 5 million units and it has commenced sales of the new Gear 360 camera in Europe and US. Samsung appears to be investing heavily in order to develop its own content and tools and if that is the case, VRB might not be the last VR to be acquired by Samsung. Recall that after Samsung brought over AI assistant which it eventually used to create Bixby, it kept searching for other AI startups to take over.

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