PICO, a VR brand acquired by ByteDance last year, announced on September 19 that it will hold a global new product launch event on September 22, as well as another launch event just for China on September 27. During this time, the firm is expected to unveil the much-anticipated PICO 4 all-in-one VR headset, its first product since joining ByteDance.
At present, the new PICO 4 has been pre-sold on Tmall, JD.com, Douyin and other major e-commerce platforms in China. According to previous reports, the PICO 4 will be equipped with the industry-leading Pancake optical solution, which will significantly reduce the size of the display and improve comfort for the wearer. At the same time, PICO 4 is also significantly improved in terms of clarity, with a view angle of 105°, which can bring users a more immersive VR experience.
In July 2018, PICO completed round-A financing of 167.5 million yuan ($23.9 million). At that time, company CEO Henry Zhou revealed that the company was expected to be listed in China or an overseas stock exchange in the next three to five years. However, in August 2021, PICO was acquired by ByteDance in a final deal worth more than 9 billion yuan.
After acquiring PICO, ByteDance poured a series of resources into the VR brand, including but not limited to ads and information pushes on Douyin, videos recorded by celebrities, and livestreaming.
In addition to Douyin, PICO was also promoted on Weibo, Bilibili, Xiaohongshu and other major Chinese social platforms by means of uploaders’ evaluations and user experience sharing.
PICO is amassing more and more users. Data from Wellsenn XR show that the firm shipped 260,000 units in the second quarter of 2022, a nearly eightfold increase year-on-year. Previously, PICO reportedly raised its original sales target this year from 1 million units to about 1.8 million units.
PICO’s team has over 1,000 employees now, and is still growing. In order to seize more potential users, ByteDance chooses to fully mobilize internal resources, make use of its advantages in entertainment to expand the content ecology, and try in the direction of video and social communication.
According to a report by Chinese media outlet Finance and Economics, PICO is still recieving employees transfered from Douyin and Xigua Video. For instance, Ren Lifeng, the head of Xigua Video, Song Binghua, the head of Douyin’s variety show business, and Wu Zuomin, the director of Douyin’s entertainment department, have all been transferred to PICO. According to a ByteDance insider, Yao Shuai, who used to manage Xigua Video, has also recently joined PICO. Other sources say that ByteDance is still recruiting new talent for PICO, including for its head of marketing position.
Jason Ma, former Director and Head of Xiaomi‘s VR department, as well as the founder of virtual image social app Vyou, has reportedly joined ByteDance. Vyou’s operator, PoliQ, has been merged, and the original team of more than 50 people has been merged into PICO’s social center.
At the same time, ByteDance is beefing up its technology portfolio. It invested in Shenzhen Optiark Semiconductor, which focuses on diffraction optics and semiconductor micro-nano processing, two months after acquiring PICO. Not only that, chip makers like RiVAI Technology and Yunsilicon Technology have also been added to the list of investments.
The report by China Securities pointed out that the current domestic VR all-in-one machine market currently lacks popular game applications. The organization believes that creating content competitiveness will be the next key action of VR machine manufacturers. VR gaming is the core of the content ecosystem, while pan-entertainment areas such as fitness, movie-watching and social networking are also directions with long-term development potential.