Technology

Steve Zhao

Steve Zhao is making the next generation of VR experiences a reality

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Steve Zhao has built the holodeck. The company of which he is the founder and CEO, Sandbox VR, offers the most immersive, lifelike and compelling virtual reality gaming experience available via a network of physical gaming centres, where customers don super-advanced custom VR sets. The company had a rocky start, struggling at first to attract either investors or customers, and in 2017 Zhao invested his own life savings of about US$500,000 to secure its short-term future.

However, once it went viral on social media, the company suddenly found itself inundated with interest. It was quickly booked up months in advance, and people were missing work to come along and even flying to Hong Kong specially to experience it. After it followed its original Hong Kong location with one near Silicon Valley, it started to pick up a number of celebrity investors, including Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, Will Smith and Kevin Durant, and it has now raised US$119 million in funding, with institutional backers including Alibaba, Andreessen Horowitz and Gobi Capital. It now has outlets in 13 locations, with more coming soon.

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Steve Zhao has said that he hopes to expand the company beyond gaming and into areas such as virtual sports and festivals.

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