Cody Brown, Who Seeks to Make Virtual Reality Widespread


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Cody Brown, who is working to unleash virtual reality’s social potential.

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Ryan Shorosky for The New York Times

Name Cody Brown

Age 28

Hometown Denver

Now Lives In a four-bedroom, three-story apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn, with two other young entrepreneurs and a filmmaker.

Claim to Fame Mr. Brown is a new-media wunderkind, having helped found NYU Local, a student-run news blog while he was an undergraduate at New York University and, more recently, Scroll Kit, a visual online editor for stories, which was sold to WordPress in 2014. “We wanted to make it as intuitive as writing on paper,” he said. His latest venture, IRL, seeks to make virtual reality more accessible.

Big Break In 2009, while a senior at N.Y.U., Mr. Brown wrote and published on his personal blog a 3,462-word essay titled “A Public Can Talk to Itself: Why the Future of Journalism Is Actually Pretty Clear.” It showcased his unflagging tech optimism at a time when the news industry seemed to be unhinged by the internet. The post caught the attention of entrepreneurs including Chris Dixon, who took the young techie under his wing. That move elevated Mr. Brown’s place in the tech scene. From there, his career as a new-media entrepreneur took off.

Latest Project IRL, which was started in 2016, seeks to exploit what Mr. Brown calls virtual reality’s untapped social potential. “An overwhelming number of people have not discovered room-scale V.R., or high-end V.R., and they will not believe the hype until you put it on their face,” he said. To that end, he has been hosting parties in Brooklyn and Manhattan for friends, colleagues and V.I.P.s like Josh Miller, a former digital strategy specialist for the White House.

Next Parties help spread the word, but Mr. Brown also wants to create a V.R. incubation community, “sort of a membership club where you learn how to use the tech, pay a certain amount per month and come by at any hour,” he said. He is also consulting with a Hollywood studio for a simultaneous V.R. experience tied to a major motion picture.

Empathy Machine To Mr. Brown, virtual reality is more than the latest tech buzz. “V.R. is a mutual technology that can be applied and molded into anything we want,” he said. “If we have any hope to heal as a country, we need a bar that’s not defined by geography.”

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