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Vrideo Wants to Be the YouTube for Virtual Reality

It's got $1.8 million to get started, but YouTube has plans of its own.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Virtual reality isn’t mainstream quite yet, but lots of smart people are sure it’s coming. So if it does, where will you find it?

Vrideo would like to help. The L.A.-based startup is calling itself “the home of immersive video,” which is another way of saying it would like to be the YouTube for virtual reality: The service wants to let virtual reality video makers upload and stream their stuff to anyone who wants to see it, either on its website or, ideally, via VR devices like Facebook’s Oculus Rift headsets.

Vrideo just launched this month, so its existing catalog isn’t that deep. But then again there isn’t that much VR video out there, because the devices to play it are still pretty nascent.

At some point that should change, and if it does Vrideo may deal with significant bandwidth and storage costs, but it can deal with that if and when it gets there. For now, it has $1.8 million in seed funding from a group of investors including Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Advancit, Betaworks and, of course, Nas.

Vrideo CEO Alex Rosenfeld says that he’s not going to charge video makers to upload their content, and for now users can watch everything for free. Eventually, he wants to let content owners sell some clips, and he figures there’s a big opportunity for advertising down the road.

My hunch is that Rosenfeld’s biggest issue will be other people who want to be the YouTube for virtual reality. Including YouTube, which started supporting 360-degree videos — but not full-blown VR clips — earlier this year. If he wants to carve out a niche, he’ll have to move fast.

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