Founded by two Valve employees under Valve's roof five years ago, castAR had been an ambitious augmented reality department. After winning an award, scoring a multimillion dollar investment, and successfully crowdfunded via Kickstarter, what seemed to be a promising startup company, may now be gone.
On Monday, a former castAR employee took Twitter to announce that the AR company has shut down operations. This story was followed by Polygon who found out from "former employees" who asked for anonymity, that the major finance backbone of castAR has withdrawn its funding last week.
Full staff layoff reportedly ensued and a revelation that castAR's remaining assets will be liquidated. However, the Palo Alto tech firm and its affiliate Eat Sleep Play have not issued any official statement yet.
In 2013, Valve engineers Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson took castAR with them as they left the video game developer in Bellevue, Washington. Formerly known as Technical Illusions, castAR's first product is a company named augmented and virtual reality glasses.
After going home with two awards at the 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire, castAR was able to score US$1 million on Kickstarter in just two days. This is more than 50 percent greater than its US$400,000 goal. This creates distinctive hologram-like images to the wearer's eyes. It was designed to be functional as well for virtual reality purposes.
In August 2015, Andy Rubin's Playground Global invested into the startup with US$15 million funding. Since then, it headhunted presidents of top notch companies such as Lucas Arts and The Walt Disney. Its team was even composed of hires from Avalanche Software, the developer of Disney Infinity series.
In September 2016, it opened its studio in Salt Lake City, Utah. And in the following month, castAR acquired Eat Sleep Play, the developer of Twisted Metal.