Walmart Acquires VR Startup With Eye on Future of Shopping

Walmart’s tech incubator, Store No. 8 recently purchased Spatialand, a small virtual reality startup that specializes in software tools designed for transforming existing media content into immersive experiences. The acquisition is part of Walmart’s plans to create future shopping experiences for store locations and websites. Spatialand founder Kim Cooper and 10 employees will join Walmart; Store No. 8 principal Katie Finnegan will serve as interim CEO. Financial terms were not revealed.

“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,” wrote Finnegan on the Store No. 8 blog.

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She added that Cooper and Store No. 8 consultant Jeremy Welt will helm the new venture as co-founders. The three worked with their teams on a proof-of-concept VR experience last year.

Under Cooper’s leadership, Spatialand has helped create immersive content with Intel, Oculus and Reebok, among others. Welt has played key roles in helping to launch “YouTube’s first-ever commercial deal to working on the Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of Maker Studios,” explains Finnegan.

“The move comes as augmented reality, not virtual reality, has gained popularity as the next-generation technology most likely to reimagine at-home shopping,” reports Recode. “But in an interview, Finnegan said her group is focused on retail experiences that may not go mainstream for five to 10 years, and she believes virtual reality may fit into that bucket.”

According to Recode, “Other Store No. 8 projects include a personal shopping service run by Rent the Runway founder Jenny Fleiss, and an initiative to build a cashier-less store like Amazon Go, run by Jet.com co-founder Mike Hanrahan.”