Viewpoints: April 2021 wrap-up

Welcome to this month’s curated digest of viewpoints, news and investment activity covering areas including XR, the metaverse and the inevitable shift towards spatial computing. If you know of anyone else that would find this investment-focused digest useful then please pass it along!

Dave Haynes & Petri Rajahalme

Investors Betting Big On The Metaverse

Since the start of 2021, we've seen a huge surge of interest in all the key areas we cover in the Viewpoints newsletter. In VR/AR a number of bigger rounds have started coming together, as consumer interest grows and XR enterprise startups in the space prove out their worth, accelerated by the post-covid digital transformation. It's no surprise that CEO's such as Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg continue to go on record in podcasts and earnings calls to repeat their commitment to owning the next computing platform.

But nowhere has the interest and hype machine been more evident this month than for companies looking to build out their own parts of the oncoming Metaverse. However you define it, investors have been piling in. At the centre of it all, Tim Sweeney's Epic have raised another $1bn (including a large chunk from Sony Corporation). Meanwhile this month, Andreessen Horowitz continues to bet big on metaverse related topics, backing everyone from RTFKT (virtual sneakers) to Bitski (Shopify for NFT's). Dive into our fundraising round up below and you'll find some super interesting companies that are set to power our virtual future!

Fundraising Round-Up

Epic Games have raised $1bn funding, including $200m from Sony to help its long-term vision of the Metaverse, valuing the company at $28.7bn.

Tempo have raised $220m from Softbank for its home fitness system that uses advanced 3D sensors and artificial intelligence to analyze users’ motion to provide a personal training experience.

II-VI have raised $410m from Apple for it's optics manufacturing capability. The company currently supplies Apple with LiDAR sensors, which are embedded in its iPhone and likely future AR devices.

Genies have raised $65m to boost its avatar creator, which the company is touting for virtual identity and wearable digital goods. Genies also announced a partnership with Dapper Labs, the company behind NBA Top Shot and CryptoKitties.

Proximie have raised $38m for augmented reality surgery. The UK-based company uses AR to help surgeons to advise on operations remotely.

Tylko have raised $26m series C led by Pitango Growth and Evli Growth Partners. The Polish modular furniture company employs AR as part of its sales cycle.

Virtualitics have raised $18m to scale defense industry support and expand commercial market with AI-driven analytics and 3D visualization tech.

PortalOne have raised $15m for a new hybrid gaming/TV show app in a round with participation from Atari, Founders Fund, TQ Ventures and others.

Synthesia have raised $12.5m for its AI video generation platform. Led by FirstMark, previous investors included Seedcamp and LDV.

Holoride, an Audi spinoff, have raised $12m series A led by Terranet valuing it at $36m. The company is developing immersive in-car VR experiences.

Dispelix the Finland-based augmented reality glasses maker, have raised $10m from Flashpoint Venture Debt Fund. The funding will be used to further develop their full colour Laser Beam Scanning projection tech.

AmazeVR have raised $9.5m to bring immersive concerts to VR. Led by Murex Partners, the funding round saw participation from We Ventures, Bass Investment and Dunamu & Partners.

RTFKT Studios, a virtual fashion platform have raised $8m seed round lead by Andreessen Horowitz. The company is best known for its Metaverse-ready sneakers and collectibles.

Campfire have raised $8m for its holographic technology that leverages both AR & VR for enterprise product design. The funding came from OTV, Kli Capital, Tuesday Capital, and others.

Leo AR raises $3m seed round to develop its user-facing marketplace for 3D objects.

The Wild have raised $2m for its cloud-based, real-time collaboration platform for designers to create and share their spatial designs in VR/AR.

Wave have raises an undisclosed amount from Warner Music Group as part of a broader partnership with the virtual music concerts platform.

Exits and M&A

Facebook has acquired Downpour Interactive, the games studio behind Onward, one of VR's most popular multiplayer shooters.

Snap has acquired 3D mapping startup Pixel8.Earth. The acquisition moves the company further into the AR cloud and making a digital twin of the real world.

Google acquires Dysonics, a 3D audio startup. The startup could help Google build better headphones, but its tech could also be used for future AR products.

Vicarious Surgical, the company that helps surgeons by combining virtual reality and miniaturised robotics is going public inin a $1.1bn SPAC deal

Quick Links

Before we sign off for this month, here’s a few extra data points and opinion pieces we thought were worth a quick read.

  • Tim Cook tells Kara Swisher that AR is ‘critically’ important for Apple’s future.

  • Extended reality sees pickup from pandemic, growing interest in industrial use.

  • Ericcson fuels UK automotive Industry 4.0 drive with 5G VR

  • China holds 35% of global 6G patents.

  • A fund to buy virtual real estate? Investors aren't clamouring to buy commercial property right now, but in VR, property deals are attracting millions of real-life dollars.

That’s all for now. Have a great May and please do send us your feedback, comments or interesting new startups in this space!