It has been a tough year so far for virtual reality company Osso VR. After applying for an initial public offering (IPO), the company was denied due to the low barrier of entry for competitors, which was seen as a major flaw in its business model.
“We thought we were special, but it turns out that anyone can get a copy of Unity and start making VR content,” said Osso VR CEO Justin Barad. “We worked hard to raise money and hire people to make something that other companies were already making. But we soon realized that lots of other companies were doing the same thing. By the time we realized that it wasn’t just other companies competing with us, it was anyone who could download and use easy-to-learn game engine software. I knew that the only way to deal with this problem was to go public and raise enough money to hire all those people too, so that we’d be the only ones making the things that we make.”
As Osso VR continued with its efforts to hire anyone that might ever compete with them, the $109 million they initially raised as start-up capital was quickly running out. Then things got significantly worse when earlier this year a flood of medical illustrators entered the VR surgery market.
“I was charging $1000 for a medical illustration when suddenly, Midjourny, Dalle, and Stable Diffusion AI image generators started drawing medical illustrations faster than I could sharpen my pencil,” explained medical illustrator Annie Campbell. “I thought my career was over, but then I learned to use Unity, a free VR development program that’s so easy to learn, anyone could make VR content with it. Now I can charge $25,000 for a project, and it’s way more fun than just drawing old bones.”
Osso, whose business plan relied on charging as much as $250k per project and many thousands more in monthly licensing fees, found itself unable to compete with so many others doing the exact same thing but much faster and much much cheaper.
“First Theranos, and now this! It is almost as though it is becoming unsafe to invest millions of dollars in companies led by CEOs with zero business experience,” exclaimed Josh Willeford, whose VC firm invested a significant amount in Osso’s plan to dominate the market by hiring anyone who might compete with them.
Barad, who recently appeared as the featured speaker at ELSBM, a conference for entrepreneurs with laughably simple business models, remained positive. “There’s still hope. All we need to do is raise $91 million each year so we can keep hiring all the people who might compete with us, such as teenagers with reasonable internet speeds, disgruntled plumbers who are learning tech skills in their spare time, and anyone else who may become even slightly competent with Unity or 11 other game engines that do essentially the same thing. We do that and we’re back in business!”
Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen as last week creditors stepped in to recoup their losses. As it turned out, the virtual reality company that had operated as a virtual office was forced to liquidate all their assets, which amounted to little more than virtually nothing but a few pairs of purple Converse All Stars.
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