That’s three and counting for Walmart Stores Inc.’s Store No. 8 with its confirmed acquisition of virtual reality firm Spatialand.
The Venice, Calif.-based Spatialand, with a team of about 10, works with companies on virtual experiences having teamed with businesses such as Facebook’s Oculus, Intel, Reebok and the band Linkin Park.
“Every entrepreneur has their dream of being acquired and I think this is one of my dreams,” said Spatialand cofounder and chief executive officer Kim Cooper. “This is one of my dreams and this made sense for me and my team because we’re working in this uncharted territory of virtual reality/augmented reality.”
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cooper will remain with the company as a cofounder, alongside Store No. 8 chief product officer Jeremy Welt, who will join as another cofounder. Store No. 8 cofounder and principal Katie Finnegan will take on the ceo role at the newly acquired firm.
Spatialand joins two other portfolio companies under the tech incubator’s wing: a company called Code Eight headed by Rent the Runway cofounder Jenny Fleiss and a group of hardware and software developers operating under the banner Project Franklin.
Walmart revealed the launch of Store No. 8 last spring. The incubator gets its name from a store in the retailer’s early days used as a base for experimentation by Walmart founder Sam Walton.
What exactly Spatialand will be working on with Store No. 8 is unclear, but the focus is obviously on VR projects that could be used by Walmart – both online and off.
“We’re just really excited about this opportunity in working with Katie,” Cooper said. “We’ll be in stealth mode just trying to uncover what the possibilities are. It’s just a tremendous opportunity. Katie has given us such creative freedom.”
The executive went on to say the work the company will be doing with Store No. 8 is not something coming out in the next year, but a significant investment in time likely to not be seen until three, five or even seven years out from now. What Spatialand presented at a gala last year, however, may provide a clue.
Last year Store No. 8 teamed with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Accenture for the Innov8: V-Commerce competition, which culminated in a private Beverly Hills gala showcasing just how much Wal-Mart believes in the power of VR at retail. Spatialand, at the time, presented a proof of concept that transported users to Yosemite National Park where they could learn virtually how to pitch a tent or how to cook a recipe for when they go camping. The point was to show product as it works in real-life situations as opposed to people shopping a store aisle trying to visualize and guess whether a tent or set of cooking equipment might actually work for their trip.
“‘VR’ is an industry buzzword right now,” Finnegan wrote in a blog post, announcing the acquisition. “And the majority of the technology that has been created in this space has been focused on the development of hardware and content for spaces such as gaming, ignoring the range of possibilities available in retail. At our core, we are merchandisers and storytellers, which drives us to believe that virtual reality has the potential to reinvent the consumer experience – with an experience we call contextual commerce.”