Date
16 October 2018
Ayden Ye and two schoolmates established VeeR VR, a virtual reality content sharing platform, in 2016. It now has more than 20 million users worldwide. Photo: HKEJ
Ayden Ye and two schoolmates established VeeR VR, a virtual reality content sharing platform, in 2016. It now has more than 20 million users worldwide. Photo: HKEJ

Former Silicon Valley executives build VR version of YouTube

Seeing the great potentials of virtual reality (VR) in the digital era, a young man gave up his lucrative venture capital job in Silicon Valley and returned to China to establish a VR content sharing platform in 2016. 

Called VeeR VR, the platform has so far registered 20 million users, with 70 percent of them from overseas.

As co-founder and chief executive of VeeR VR, Ayden Ye Hanzhong took part in the Forbes Under 30 Summit Asia held in Hong Kong in mid-July, allowing 29-year-old native of northeast China’s Jilin province to share with the Hong Kong Economic Journal his experiences and insights as a VR entrepreneur.

How he started the business

After graduating from Shanghai Jiao Tong University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science in 2011, Ye pursued a master’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley while working as a researcher at Adobe, a multinational computer software company.

After obtaining his graduate degree in 2012, Ye worked at Sierra Ventures, a privately held venture capital firm, where he was responsible for mobile networks-related startup funding.

At Sierra, Ye noticed that the allure of VR technology has prompted a growing number of enthusiasts to become content creators. That was how he realized the need for a VR content sharing platform, like what video-sharing website YouTube is doing.

He believed early on that the platform must be compatible with all types of formats and angles in order to ignite the creativity of users worldwide.

And so Ye persuaded his schoolmates at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Chen Jingshu and Richard Chen Yue, to leave Silicon Valley and set up their own business in their motherland where mobile network technology has been thriving.

Web and mobile app versions

The three started planning the launch of VeeR VR in June 2016, and the platform officially got online in October of the same year after intensive development and technical tests.

VeeR VR, aside from its web version, is also available on a mobile app. Users can watch VR videos via the app. By shaking their mobile phone, users can change the orientation of the videos. Users can also install the VeeR VR app in a VR headset for an authentic on-site experience while viewing the VR videos.

Growing number of corporate users

In less than two years, VeeR VR has grown to a team of about 70 people, while the number of its registered users around the globe has reached more than 20 million, including quite a number of corporate users such as travel companies.

For travel agencies, VeeR VR provides an ideal platform to promote their destinations and tour packages to customers, Yee said.

Reputable news agencies and outlets such as Euronews, Huffington Post, Russia’s television network RT and Associated Press have established official accounts with VeeR VR, he said.

For restaurants and hotels, the platform also enables users to post comments about their experience, including the quality of food and service, in these establishments.

Funding, revenue sources

Yee said the platform has lined up new functions and features to enhance the VR experience of users.

For example, VeeR VR has introduced a Heat Map that shows which parts of the content catch the most attention from the audience.

The team has also established a VeeR Academy, which can share hardware news and VR content production tips with budding creators.

Currently, the platform allows both creators and viewers to share content. Users can upload paid content, providing a revenue source for the platform.

The startup has so far completed angel funding and a series A funding round, Ye said, although he declined to disclose the amounts of investment.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 6

Translation by Jonathan Chong

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

JC/CG

The VeeR VR platform has a function called Heat Map, which enables content creators to know which parts of their content catch the most attention from viewers. Photo: VeeR VR


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