- Twitter hired Gregory Gopman as manager for its fledgling virtual reality (VR) initiative, according to an exclusive report in Variety. The social media site did not respond to Variety’s request for comment on the matter. UPDATE: TechCrunch reports today that Gopman posted to Facebook saying he was fired from Twitter following an article the publication ran Tuesday, which Gopman described as a "smash piece" in the comments of his post.
- Gopman previously worked for the VR publication UploadVR, and is the co-founder and former CEO of AngelHack, which organizes corporate hackathons for companies like Comcast and Hearst, as Variety reports. Fortune notes that Gopman was ousted from AngelHack over alleged misuse of company funds.
In June, Twitter brought on Apple vet Alessandro Sabatelli as the director of its AR and VR division, and in the same month partnered with Samsung and the NBA to broadcast 360 degree video of the NBA finals, though those videos never materialized on Twitter itself.
Having inked myriad deals over the past year to ensure a steady stable of video content, Twitter now appears to be expanding the mediums through which it can actually serve video streams, with a renewed focus on fleshing out VR for the purpose of 360 degree video. As Variety notes, Twitter has broached the idea of 360 degree video before with its NBA/Samsung deal, but was perhaps unready to actually handle the live streams via its own platform at the time.
Over the past few months, VR has become an increasingly hot commodity, with consumer spend forecasted to hit $5 billion by the end of 2016. Twitter’s new VR hire could then be in anticipation of more mobile-ready VR devices, such as the recently announced Google Daydream View headset, which comes fully integrated with the Pixel smartphone.
An expanded VR team under Gopman is just the latest in Twitter’s ongoing saga to build back up as a social TV platform following a weak financial year that saw several major potential suitors back down from buying the site.
Even as Twitter looks to trendy tech to reinvent itself — and improves its existing video offerings — it might be too little too late in repairing a damaged image, and the choice of Gopman is doubly interesting in that regard considering his own shaky past.