Verizon Acquires 360-Degree VR Specialists RYOT
AOL, under Verizon Communications Inc. has finalized arrangements to buy virtual reality and 360-degree video specialists RYOT Corp. this they announced on Wednesday but the actual terms and conditions are yet to be released. This move is aimed at staying ahead of the curve as investments in virtual reality and 360-degree video are at an all-time high. Digital media organizations are making huge steps to publishing their content on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat.
RYOT currently has a staff base of 25 people and all of them will form a new unit under AOL’s The Huffington Post. They will be working in conjunction with the sister publications under AOL including Engadget, TechCrunch and Autoblog. RYOT will also bring new services to the table which will be offered to clients of AOL’s partner Studio division that creates branded content for their clients. According to the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington, “RYOT will work on big editorial projects, but also with brands. It will work across everything were doing at The Huffington Post”. Huffington Post CEO Jared Grusd also said “RYOT could also provide content for platforms owned by AOL-parent Verizon, including is mobile video app go90”.
Originally, RYOT came from humble beginnings solely focused on news and covering stories “where every story could have an action associated with it,” according to its founder, Bryn Mooser. In the past two years however, the company has focused a lot more on virtual reality and 360-degree video production where they have made a name for themselves creating content for publishers, brands and non-profits. They have also used the opportunity to push content to their own properties and social channels.
In 2015, RYOT worked in partnership with The Huffington Post to produce a VR film called “The Crossing”. This film told the story of the refugee crisis in Greece at the time. During this year they also partnered with The New York Times and Associated Press. “Our focus has been on 360-degree and virtual reality video because you can really bring people inside the story. Now were bringing that storytelling and tech expertise to the global audience of The Huffington Post,” Mr. Mooser said. RYOT also worked with Walgreens to help document their work with non-profits NGO Vitamin Angels. They also worked with PepsiCo to create content for the company’s recycling initiatives in Central America. This work with various brands has accounted for a huge chunk of RYOT revenue.
Mr. Grusd RYOT main attraction to The Huffington Post was basically its editorial mission and approach. He added that, “There are obviously a lot of VR companies across the landscape, and the idea of producing this type of content is one that’s gaining traction. Our goal was not just to acquire a production studio but to find one that shares our drive and mission.”
Ms. Huffington added that “The relationships between the RYOT team and the Huffington Post team have grown very close over the past few months. We’ve worked with them and it really felt like the right acquisition for us”.
Overall this acquisition by Verizon Communication promises to yield a lot of good results for the company and it is an investment that will take them further in their pursuits.