Being a start up in the VR space is tough enough. It was announced that AltspaceVR was shutting down which is tough to see. That being said, there is parallel thread on Reddit discussing that they seemed to have been also been under pressure for patent infringement on patent US6409599 and being litigated from a company known to be a patent troll. Why this is troubling is because in this early stage of VR ecosystem development, patent trolls can seriously hinder adoption and innovation as we go forward. The US patent system definitely has holes that allow it to be twisted and used in ways counter to it’s goals of protecting and fostering innovation. Very unfortunate indeed.
Update 8/10/17: this patent issue was not related to the reasons for AltspaceVR’s shutdown. Here’s a subsequent talk from one of the founders about more details on what happened: https://youtu.be/5k1u8319TWg
Link to high level description of the patent under question: https://www.google.com/patents/US6409599