AWS Startups Blog

Brent Bushnell of Two Bit Circus Believes Web 3.0 Is Almost Here

Two Bit Circus CEO Brent Bushnell

The anti-social downsides of social technologies are starting to be a big concern for tech companies these days. It’s a surprise, since Web 2.0 was all about building out the social capacity of existing tech offerings. But Brent Bushnell of Two Bit Circus isn’t worried. In fact, he believes he’s well positioned for the next big thing: bringing people back together again in public.

“We’re all on our devices all the time. We feel like people are tired of that and there’s this real appetite for experiences,” Bushnell, wearing a 3D printed bow-tie, says. What does he propose as a solution? “We’re opening an amusement park.”

The serial entrepreneur and his co-founder have been building public attractions like this for more than 10 years. They began as a successful consulting company, helping brands tell their story in public at places like CES and South by Southwest. This practical grounding has informed their philosophy of how to bring people together, and what to expect.

“You are a different person in public than when you’re at home. When you’re at home, you’re comfortable, you can read the instructions, you’ve got a glass of wine, you are in your space,” Bushnell says. “When you’re in public you might be on a date, you’ve got a colleague, you’ve been drinking. You just have a different tolerance for instructions and learning new stuff. So you want to design experiences and be mindful of that. You design different experiences at home than you do for public.”

“If internet 1.0 and 2.0 is a lot about platforms and systems and pipelines, 3.0 is a lot about content,” Bushnell goes on. “And a lot of the people in LA that have been supporting the Hollywood industry for years have exactly the skill set we need—to be able to do production design and fabrication and content creation and all of the stuff to support an interactive entertainment experience like this.”

Their planned “Micro Amusement Park”—the first new amusement park built in America in 20 years—is half a city block in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles, broken up into lots of different zones: a full food and beverage zone, a VR arena, a whole reimagined arcade, a carnival midway, a rotating gallery space, what they call story rooms (their version of escape rooms), and an entire interactive supper club. Bushnell expects park doors to open this summer.

“We’re looking to get people back together and playing socially,” Bushnell says. “A lot of our games are 2, 5, 10, 100 people playing at once, but this is live and in person. That interactive supper club does a futuristic murder mystery, we run game shows, all kinds of fun like that. The virtual reality, we’re looking for stuff that’s not just you alone in VR, but maybe asymmetric play. You’re Godzilla destroying the city. Four of us have Xbox controllers and we get to look into the same world and be the tanks to stop you.”

Think of it like a high-tech circus. Bushnell sees a real opportunity to take new tech, computer vision, cheap sensors, and cloud computing and “leverage it to get people back together in public, face-to-face meeting new people, hanging out with old friends and having some fun.”

It’s a fortuitous convergence of tech, experience, and public appetite. Just as consumers are beginning to be wary of ad-driven social experiences, Bushnell and his team are bringing their amusement park online, readying a whole new environment that combines the physical, the social, and the technological in a new way.

“It’s the culmination of so much work for so long,” Bushnell says. “It’s just going to be so much fun to throw open those doors.”

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung

Michelle Kung currently works in startup content at AWS and was previously the head of content at Index Ventures. Prior to joining the corporate world, Michelle was a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, the founding Business Editor at the Huffington Post, a correspondent for The Boston Globe, a columnist for Publisher’s Weekly and a writer at Entertainment Weekly.