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Jaunt CEO Steps Down, VR Company Now Looking For A Growth-Oriented Replacement

Disney was the lead investor on a $65 million round in the company last year.

Jaunt CEO Steps Down, VR Company Now Looking For A Growth-Oriented Replacement

The CEO of Jaunt, one of the most high-profile virtual reality companies, is stepping down.

Left: Jens Christensen; right: Arthur van Hoff

Jens Christensen, who cofounded the Silicon Valley-based company, is leaving the company, Fast Company has learned. Jaunt will conduct a search for a permanent CEO, while cofounder and CTO Arthur van Hoff will serve as interim CEO.

Jaunt, which last year got a $65 million round of funding led by Disney, has an end-to-end VR content production and distribution platform, as well as a high-end VR camera system. Jaunt users can watch things like 360-degree videos of Paul McCartney in concert, a visit to Nepal, San Francisco Giants baseball, and much more.

Consumer virtual reality, though a nascent industry, is expected to be worth $30 billion a year by 2020. Content alone is predicted to generate $5.4 billion by 2025.

A spokesperson told Fast Company that like other Silicon Valley startups, Jaunt is a dynamic company that has shifting needs and that Christensen, as a serial entrepreneur, recognized that the company would be better served by stepping aside in order to make room for a CEO who could guide the company toward dramatic growth.

Ultimately, the spokesperson suggested, Christensen recognized that meeting the company’s goals was a job for someone else.

There have been no outward signs of trouble at Jaunt. Still, the shuffling at the top of the private company suggests, among other possibilities, that Christensen concluded he wasn't the right person to take the company where it wants to go or that the board didn't believe he could. But who knows?

"It has been my privilege to lead Jaunt from its birth through rapid growth, $100 million in funding, and seminal product releases to see it become the world's leading cinematic VR company," Christensen said in a release. "I'm especially proud of Jaunt's world-class team who have created the award-winning Jaunt One camera, built the most advanced cloud-based VR rendering system, launched Jaunt Studios in LA, and released the best-in-class Jaunt VR app. After three years at the helm, I have decided that it is now time for me to pass the baton and move on to my next adventure."

The Jaunt spokesperson said Christensen was well liked and respected by the board and that his leadership to date had demonstrated impressive results.

This story has been updated to include comment from Christensen included in a release from Jaunt.

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