James Murdoch Invests $20 Million in The Void, a Location-Based VR Startup

Todd Spangler

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James Murdoch, former CEO of 21st Century Fox, has invested $20 million in The Void, a startup specializing in location-based virtual reality (VR) experiences, Variety has confirmed.

The funding comes through Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, a holding company that Rupert Murdoch’s younger son established with $1 billion in proceeds from the sale of his stake in 21CF to Disney earlier this year, per an FT report. Lupa, with offices in New York and Mumbai, is aiming to make investments in media and tech companies.

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Lupa’s investment in The Void was first reported by Bloomberg over the weekend. A rep for James Murdoch declined to comment. The Void did not respond to requests for info.

Last summer, The Void’s chairman, Craig Watson, stepped into the CEO role to replace Cliff Plumer, who had become CEO of the company in early 2017. Founded in 2015, The Void counts Disney, Fidelity and Qualcomm Ventures among its prior investors.

The Void has launched ticketed VR experiences in malls and movie theaters around the world. The company currently operates in 11 locations, including in Las Vegas, Santa Monica, Calif., Toronto, and Dubai. It has announced plans to launch additional locations in Hollywood, New York, and Washington, D.C., and is set to come to San Francisco this summer.

The Lindon, Utah-based company has partnered with Disney and Lucasfilm’s ILMxLab on a number of location-based VR experiences, including “Ralph Breaks VR” and “Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire.” In addition, The Void has also produced some original content in-house, like its horror-themed “Nicodemus” experience.

Lupa’s previously announced investments have included stakes in Artists, Writers and Artisans, a comic-book publisher led by Bill Jemas, former publisher of Marvel; and Norway’s UBIQ Aerospace, which is developing an autonomous icing protection solution for unmanned aircraft. Lupa Systems’ staff includes Jeff Palker, managing partner and general counsel, who was previously EVP, deputy general counsel and deputy chief compliance officer at 21st Century Fox; partner Frederic Michel, a former exec at U.K.’s Sky; and partner Ben FitzGerald, who formerly worked in the Pentagon’s Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.

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