R7 Invests in LFL to build the Holodeck

Jan 24, 2018

You walk into a dark room. Doors close. You can’t see a thing. And then, with the flip of a switch, you are suddenly transported deep into the jungle. It’s nighttime and starting to rain. Suddenly, you hear what sounds like crackling twigs. Your heart starts to race. It’s nothing you tell yourself, you’re imagining things. As you look through the heavy fog, you see something. It’s a giant T-rex running directly at you. You freeze while you hold your breath.

You’re not in the jungle; you’re not in the movies -- You’re in the holodeck.

If you’re anything like us, this story sounds like science fiction. And it was...until we met the team at Light Field Lab.

When we first heard about Light Field Lab, our team had mixed reactions. Didn’t holograms already exist? What about Tupac at Coachella or Disney’s Haunted Mansion? Two of us agreed to do a call with the founder, Jon Karafin, but most of what he said sounded too good to be real. Regardless, we agreed to go visit them in person to see a demo.

We landed in San Francisco, jumped in a Lyft, and headed to what we thought was their office. Nope, wrong. Very wrong. The Lyft dropped us off at someone’s house. As we approached a front door with 23 deadbolts, Trey muttered “this is either going to be very good, or very, very bad.” Inside the house we met the founders, Jon, Brendan and Ed. Before we sat down, we blurted out our first question, “How is this different than Tupac at Coachella?” The answer was immediate. “Tupac was very cool, but not a hologram. I know, because the content was created when I was an executive at Digital Domain .” Jon was off to a good start.

Over the course of the first hour we learned that Brendan makes the strongest coffee in the world (seriously, his coffee makes Starbucks taste like a shoe), Ed has a machine shop in his house (including a CNC machine!!!), and Jon is a member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood (we still need to take a field trip!).. Fascinating guys, to say the least. After several pots of coffee, it was time to see what they had built.

First up, the guest room. As we walked in, Jon described what we were about to see which ended with “...this is the highest resolution single display surface, ever created.” Wait, what? What about my new Samsung 4K TV?! We looked straight ahead and saw a small screen, about the size of an iPad Mini. It displayed an overhead photo of downtown San Francisco with colors so vivid, it felt like they were exploding out of the screen. Jon then grabbed a microscope, cranked it up to max magnification, and put it up against the surface. We were now zoomed in to street level, with an image so crystal clear that you could see a bike chained up to a street light. The moment was surreal.

Next up, the garage, where the real magic was being built. Sorry, this is the part of the story we can’t talk about due to it’s secrecy. Here’s what we can tell you. What we saw in that garage was the beginnings of something absolutely extraordinary, the world’s first real moving holograms...with no headgear.

As we left their house, we had to take a moment to comprehend how transformational this startup could be. And to think, it all started in this little two-car garage with three incredible entrepreneurs.

We invested in Light Field Lab’s heavily over-committed seed round alongside Khosla Ventures and Sherpa Capital. You can read more about it here.

We’re proud to be part of Light Field Lab and welcome them to our portfolio.