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Here Be Dragons

Here Be Dragons VR studio closes $10 million Series A led by Discovery

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Here Be Dragons, an immersive production studio focused on virtual reality content, has closed a $10 million Series A round led by Discovery Communications with participation also coming from David Droga and David Jones. The raise sets the virtual reality studio’s valuation at $55 million pre-money, the company confirmed to TechCrunch.

As part of the round, Discovery exec Rebecca Howard will be joining Here Be Dragons’ board of directors.

While content bets are never all that simple (let alone ones focused on emerging technologies like VR), Here Be Dragons CEO Patrick Milling-Smith believes his company is in a great place after reaching profitability and working with partners like Nike, Samsung, The New York Times and GE.

The Series A raise will go toward building out some of the various divisions within the studio, Milling-Smith tells me, with a particular focus on creative development.

As consumers slowly get more comfortable with the idea of VR, the gimmicky nature has started to fade and the quality has had to improve, something that has made life harder for some resource-strapped studios, while lending established companies like Here Be Dragons the opportunity to take more risks. A lot of the companies HBD is working with have “really put the premium on the experience rather than the novelty,” Milling-Smith said.

The startup, whose mouthful-of-a-name is a reference to “dangerous and unexplored areas,” was founded in 2014 as the sister company of VR content platform Vrse, now Within. The companies occasionally collaborate, but operate independently, though they share a co-founder in filmmaker Chris Milk.

The startup has focused a great deal of its efforts on VR to date, but is increasingly looking toward augmented reality experiences as well, having just debuted a project at Comic-Con with FX that utilized the Microsoft HoloLens. Milling-Smith is also excited about seeing the potential of phone-based AR systems like what will be enabled by Apple’s upcoming ARKit, which he says will lead to “so much more innovation and so many more people creating content.”