Seattle entrepreneur Todd Hooper raises cash for mysterious new startup Aardvark Labs

news 8 months ago 77
VREAL CEO Todd Hooper speaks at a Tech Alliance event in Seattle.

Veteran Seattle tech entrepreneur Todd Hooper has raised investment for a stealthy new startup.

A new SEC filing reveals that a Seattle-area company called Aardvark Labs has raised $3.5 million.

Hooper, who previously led virtual reality startup Vreal and also founded Zipline Games and Napera Networks, is listed on the filing. Other names include Suhail Dutta, vice president of product and engineering at Seattle meat marketplace Crowd Cow, who is listed as both a director and executive officer. Brad Robel-Forrest, a senior manager at Unity Technologies, is listed as a director.

Hooper declined to provide more details when contacted by GeekWire.

Hooper and Dutta also worked at Unity Technologies, the video game software giant based in San Francisco that has an office in the Seattle region.

Vreal launched in 2015 and aimed to build a VR live streaming and broadcast platform. It raised a $11.7 million Series A round in 2018 but shut down in August 2019. However, the company’s website is still up, with a message noting that its IP portfolio and tech are available for license.

Vreal was among a throng of Seattle-area startups aiming to build technology for the much-hyped VR and AR industry. Its product was similar to game streaming sites like Amazon’s Twitch, but for virtual reality. Users could create their own avatars and stand in VR games with their favorite streamers.

Many VR and AR startups have struggled in recent years as the technology has yet to catch on with mainstream consumers. Pixvana was another Seattle VR company that raised venture capital, but it pivoted last year after the startup was unable to gain enough traction to support its business.

The pandemic has helped put mixed reality back into the spotlight as people look for ways to connect in a socially-distanced world. Tech giants including Facebook, Valve, Microsoft, and Apple — which is reportedly set to release its own headset, potentially next year — are still investing heavily in the sector.

We’ll update this post as we learn more about Aardvark Labs.

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