Walmart has acquired a small virtual reality shop, called Spatialand, to be the centerpiece of VR efforts that the company hopes will someday transform the shopping experience across the company’s different websites and stores.
Spatialand makes software tools that let creators transform existing content into immersive, virtual reality experiences. The startup worked with Walmart’s technology incubator, Store No. 8, on a project last year, and has now been acquired by that group.
The startup’s founder, Kim Cooper, and about 10 employees will join Walmart in the deal. Katie Finnegan, who has been overseeing the Store No. 8 incubator, will serve as interim CEO of the new virtual reality company.
The move comes as augmented reality, not virtual reality, has gained popularity as the next-generation technology most likely to reimagine at-home shopping. 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.
She declined to offer specifics on what the Spatialand team will be looking to create at Walmart, and said the team’s work may not be revealed for 12 to 18 months.
Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but it is believed to be a relatively small deal. Other Store No. 8 projects include a personal shopping service run by Rent the Runway founder Jenny Fleiss and an initiative to build a cashierless store like Amazon Go, run by Jet.com co-founder Mike Hanrahan.