Walmart Buys Up Virtual Reality Startup That Promises to Revolutionize Retail

Made by Google, virtual reality
Virtual reality artist Teek Mach at a Made by Google event in Los Angeles.
Rex Shutterstock

Looks like the third time might be the charm for Walmart’s Store No. 8, the retail giant’s tech incubator that created yet another portfolio company with the recent acquisition of virtual reality startup Spatialand.

The move comes months after Walmart initially expressed interest in VR as a tool that could revolutionize the shopping experience throughout its stores and websites. Although simulations have mostly been used in gaming and entertainment, the incubator detailed in a blog post last fall intends to explore VR’s potential in retail.

“Traditionally, the e-commerce experience has been largely two-dimensional. Through VR, our team sees a future in which we can create dynamic, interactive, multidimensional e-commerce experiences that are unparalleled,” wrote principal and founder Katie Finnegan.

After its launch last year, Store No. 8 worked with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global and Accenture for the Innov8: V-Commerce summit over the summer, when Walmart was first introduced to Spatialand’s software capabilities. In October, the incubator hosted a gala in honor of five VR developers to demonstrate how the computer-generated experience can impact the future of commerce, especially for leading names like Chanel, Westfield and Google Ventures.

Although financial terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, Finnegan will serve as the interim CEO of the company, with Spatialand co-founder Kim Cooper and Store No. 8 chief product officer Jeremy Welt assuming senior roles.

Spatialand has previously collaborated with businesses like Facebook’s Oculus, Intel and Reebok. It now joins two other portfolio companies under Store No. 8: Code Eight, helmed by Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Fleiss, and Project Franklin, led by Wim Yogurt co-founder Bart Stein.

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