The most famous VR social network is abruptly shutting down

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AltspaceVR, the virtual reality social network that has hosted everything from stand-up comedy to presidential debate-watching parties, is shutting down next week. The community announced “with heavy hearts” last night that AltspaceVR would be closing August 3rd at 10pm ET, after “unforeseen financial difficulty.”

Spokesperson Gerard Gottheil provided more detail in an email to The Verge and other outlets. “We had a supportive group of investors that last gave us money in 2015. It looked like we had a deal for our next round of funding, and it fell through,” he said. “Some combination of this deal falling through and the general slowness of VR market growth made most of our investors reluctant to fund us further. We’ve been out fundraising but have run out of time and money.”

Currently, AltSpaceVR has around 35,000 active monthly users, who spend an average of around 35 minutes a day on the free platform. AltspaceVR has hosted high-profile guests including comedian Reggie Watts and science personality Bill Nye, and it partnered with NBC News to host live events during the 2016 presidential election. The platform has been open in public beta since spring of 2015, long predating Facebook’s social VR efforts and making it one of the best-known VR social spaces. It’s accessible through most VR headsets, including the Oculus Rift, Gear VR, and HTC Vive.

Gottheil says that AltspaceVR isn’t finished as a company yet, but the future seems uncertain. “The amazing people that worked at this company created some awesome technology — things that we think will be foundational to the future of social VR,” he says. “We’d love to see this technology, if not the company, live on in some way, and we’re working on that.”

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