Student start-up in Facebook deal
An Edinburgh student start-up company has been bought by social media big-hitters Facebook.
TwoBigEars, which specialises in virtual reality technology, was founded by Edinburgh graduates from India – Abesh Thakur and Varun Nair – in 2013.
The deal comes as Facebook continues to invest in new virtual reality technology. It is the latest move by the social media giant to create an "immersive" internet experience.
Two Big Ears has been sold to the US company for an undisclosed sum in a deal brokered by Scottish law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn.
Mr Nair, from Bangalore, worked for nine years in the music and post-production industries before taking a masters in sound design at Edinburgh College of Art.
Born in Kolkata, Mr Thakur completed an undergraduate degree in electronic engineering. He worked for an IT consultancy in Chennai before coming to the University in 2011 to study a masters in acoustics and music technology.
TwoBigEars technology developed from his dissertation, which was supervised by academic staff.
The University's Acoustics and Audio group formally hosted the company on campus, and two graduates of the masters course also served as technical staff for the company.
The pair identified audio virtual reality as a major emerging market and went on to develop the fastest algorithm in the market, at between four to 12 times the speed of competitor products.
By the end of 2015, some 1,800 content developers were using the company’s software in products or demonstrations.
The immersive audio technology created by Two Big Ears will be decisive in driving forward increasingly lifelike experiences for the next generation of virtual reality devices.
Our mission is to make VR audio succeed across all devices and platforms and continue to help creators make the best experiences for billions of people across the world.
As part of the acquisition, the firm’s flagship product Spatial Workstation will now be given away for free from Facebook.
While studying at the University of Edinburgh, Abesh and Varun received support from LAUNCH.ed, which provided investment, mentoring, training and advisory support.
They also received help from the Business School’s Entrepreneurship Club (eClub) and Informatics Ventures (IV).
Two Big Ears were part of LAUNCH.ed and IV’s inaugural summer entrepreneurship program. Abesh went on to represent the company to investors when he pitched at Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) in 2014.
We’re thrilled for Abesh and Varun. They have worked hard to develop a robust and exciting product and have made the most of all the support offered by the University.