Andreessen Horowitz invests $37M in Sandbox VR to expand globally

After a tough year for location-based virtual reality startups owing to COVID-19, Sandbox VR, a location-based VR company, is coming back with plans to extend its operations across the world.

Sandbox VR aims to be an immersive social experience that combines full-body motion capture and VR technologies.

With this app, you may enter another world with your friends and go anywhere you want. FedEx said it has raised $37 million in a Series B led by Andreessen Horowitz through its Growth Fund, which assists new firms at an inflection point, with Alibaba and Craft.

The most recent investment, which brings the total to about $122 million, follows three new stores in July in Austin, Las Vegas, and Shanghai.

In 2022, Sandbox VR will open 10 additional retail outlets across the world, including Paramus, London, and Toronto, as well as two corporate and two franchise locations. It will expand its internal studio to increase content cadence and create an SDK that would allow third-party developers to access the Sandbox platform.

CEO and co-founder Steve Zhao told that the firm intends to develop a wireless technology that would remove the VR hardware backpack from players’ backs.

Players can enter the game using equipment like head-mounted virtual reality headsets, backpack computers, motion capture sensors, and haptic vests.

“With more stores on the way, we’ll be ramping up our internal studios as well as developing our SDK (software development kit) to open up publishing soon,” Zhao said.

Sandbox VR, unlike other competitors that rely on copyrighted games, develops its own software and hardware.

The company has five VR titles: Curse of Davy Jones, Amber Sky 2088, Star Trek Discovery: Away Mission, Deadwood Mansion, and Unbound Fighting League (UFL).

According to Zhao, the epidemic hit just before the firm was set to close its planned Series B financing in early 2020. Around 80 percent of the company’s staff had to leave owing to COVID concerns, which necessitated its bankruptcy filing during the COVID crisis.

Sandbox VR has emerged from COVID stronger than ever before. Its revenue is now 20 times greater than at this time last year (when it reopened international offices in April of this year).

“The grit and determination exemplified by Steve and his team at the height of the pandemic were more than admirable — it’s led them to become what we believe to be the strongest, most technologically advanced location-based VR offering available today,” said Andrew Chen, a16z general partner, and Sandbox VR board member.

As of October, the firm employed 35 people across the globe. Sandbox VR currently has 12 retail locations in the United States, Canada, and Asia.

The worldwide location-based virtual reality industry is expected to reach $26.3 billion by 2028, with a CAGR of 32.9% between 2021 and 2028, according to Verified Market Research’s study.

Sandbox VR began with the goal of providing the most immersive experience imaginable, like what people see in science fiction.

Virtual reality is simply a component, he explained, adding that Sandbox does not want to limit its operations in the VR industry.

Sandbox VR has a goal to boost human connection through technology, and in the future it may attempt to enter the metaverse market. According to Zhao, this might take 3-5 years longer.

“As we continue to innovate in the VR industry, we’ll move towards the virtualization of our physical spaces. One day, it’ll be like stepping into a portal where players can embody their persistent virtual avatars,” Zhao said.