Social network offers scale-up option

Scots virtual reality firm Two Big Ears sold to Facebook

Abesh ThakurScreenshot 2016-05-24 00.02.22Two Big Ears, the Edinburgh-based audio technology company, has been sold to Facebook to enable it to scale up its operations.

Details of the deal were undisclosed but the virtual reality company said on its website that it is “ready to take the next step on our journey and scale our work from within Facebook.”

Two Big Ears is behind the virtual reality audio app Spacial Workstation, and has released the tool for free to anyone who wants it. The software has been renamed the Facebook 360 Spacial Workstation.

Two Big Ears said that by joining forces with Facebook, it will be able to scale its technology faster as they “continue powering immersive audio experiences.” As part of the acquisition, Two Big Ears will also work alongside Facebook’s Oculus team to “create best in class VR audio.”

Spacial Workstation was launched as a software suite in which designers can create realistically sounding 3D audio to accompany VR and 360 video.

Edinburgh university graduates and founders Abesh Thakur (above left) and Varun Nair (above right) launched the company in 2013, focused on mobile and emerging technologies.

Facebook said in a statement: “Two Big Ears has revolutionised how humans hear sound with software. We’re excited to welcome them to the Facebook team and give even more people access to their incredible work through our platform.”

Shepherd and Wedderburn acted for the shareholders, who include Scottish Enterprise. The transaction team comprised corporate lawyers Stephen Trombala, John Morrison and Eilidh Gillanders, tax partner Stephen Miller and employment partner Neil Maclean. Facebook was represented by Fenwick & West.

Mr Thakur is a former enterprise fellow at the Royal Society of Edinburgh and has previously worked as a mainframe developer for a Fortune 500 company. He has experience with various software architectures, project management and delivery.

He is an avid gamer and obtained his masters degree in acoustics and music technology from Edinburgh.

Mr Nair has spent ten years working on more than 400 projects in films, games, advertising and music, with some of the top brands and production houses around the world.

He is a graduate of Edinburgh university with a Masters degree in sound design and was a resident entrepreneur at design informatics.

Board members include George Elliott, currently non-executive chairman of Craneware, Calnex Solutions and Cooper Software. Since 2007 he has been non­-executive chairman/director of 15 technology companies including Simple Audio, Kewill, MicroEmissive Displays and Corsair.

From 2000 to 2007 he was CFO of Wolfson Microelectronics, a provider of high performance mixed-signal semiconductors to the consumer electronics market. Formerly a partner of Grant Thornton, he is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland.

A fellow board member at Two Big Ears is Neil Heywood, also a non-executive director at Craneware and chairman of Codeplay Software. He also sits on the boards of DeltaDNA and Kobojo. He was previously CEO of Quadstone and head of the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre at the University of Edinburgh.


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