AOL has acquired Los Angeles-based virtual reality (VR) studio Ryot, with the startup’s website now redirecting to AOL subsidiary the Huffington Post. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Founded in 2012, Ryot touts itself as an “immersive media company linking content to action.” Founders Bryn Mooser, David Darg, and Martha Rogers refer to themselves as “aid workers, first responders and filmmakers” looking to shine a light on the world’s key global and social issues. And to do so, it creates 360-degree videos and VR experiences around the likes of Syria or the destruction caused by the Nepal earthquake. The company also received an Oscar nomination this year for best documentary short.
The fact that Ryot’s website is already redirected to the Huffington Post is a clear sign of what AOL has in store for Ryot. The site already sports a host of content, and moving forward will give HuffPo a platform to present more visual-based content across linear video, VR, and 360-degree video. And yes, given that VR is the hot-topic of 2016, it gives the broader AOL ad network something to chew on — “brand partners” are very much part of the plans here.
U.S. telecom giant Verizon acquired AOL in a $4.b billion deal last year, so Ryot is joining a major organization here. But more than that, it also gives other properties under the Verizon / AOL umbrella access to Ryot’s tools, including tech blogs Engadget and TechCrunch.
“The Huffington Post is continuing to reimagine journalism as we move into the next generation of dynamic storytelling,” said Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, in a press release. “From day one, we’ve been committed to using all the tools at our disposal to tell the most important stories of our time. And our work so far with Ryot covering the refugee crisis in Greece, The Crossing, has done just that – combining technology and storytelling to put flesh and blood on a human crisis that, for far too many around the world, had become an abstraction. It’s just the beginning of what we can do together covering news events, leading cultural conversations on a global scale, and going beyond raising awareness to making a difference in people’s lives.”