Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, we look at several major metaverse-related announcements. VRChat just pulled down $80M to create a digital economy that will reward its builders. Social VR companies like VR Chat and Rec Room will attract and retain an audience based in large part on a very unique kind of user generated content: avatars and places. Indeed this is how Roblox users are compensated by other users. World builders will soon become as sought after a celebrity streamers. The company that provides the best tools, the largest audience, and most of all, the biggest rewards for its builder community, will win. As if on cue, enter Matthew Ball, former Amazon Studios strategist turned VC, who has written brilliantly about The Metaverse. On Wedsnesday, June 30, he launched Metaverse themed ETF (Exchange Traded Fund).
VRChat Secures $80M Series D Funding to Create its Own Digital Economy. The round was led by Anthos Capital, alongside participating investors Makers Fund, GFR Fund and others. This is a haul for the six year old company, which had previously raised $15M. The company, which manages one of the biggest XR metaverses, says the funds will be used to accelerate a maker economy.
The ETF that lets you invest in public tech companies building parts the Metaverse. The Ball Roundhill ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) will buy Metaverse related stocks, a sort of Matthew Ball curated index fund. The ETF will trade on the NYSE as META. Holdings so far seem to contain familiar names like Qualcomm and Nvidia. Read Ball’s famous post defining the Metaverse in January, 2021, here.
WXR Fund, the first ever venture fund investing exclusively in women in the extended reality (XR) and artificial intelligence (AI) spaces, closed its inaugural fund at $5 million. Congrats to partners Abby Albright, Martina Welkoff, Amy LaMeyer, and Malia Probst. Companies in their portfolio include Obsess (which closed their $10 million Series A this week), absurd:joy, Embodied Labs, Wavely Diagnostics, All3D.ai, Prisms of Reality and Scatter.
Apple and Snap partner JigSpace, the ‘Canva for 3D,’ raises a $4.7M Series A. Their free popular jig space app allows users to make free 3D apps of their own without coding. The Pro Version starts at $49/month for individuals. The funding round was led by Rampersand, with Investible and new investors that include Vulpes and Roger Allen AM.
Rec Room To Add Android App. The free VR social world has exploded since adding game consoles and Apple devices. The Android release should further accelerate it’s growth. The company recently raised $100M at a valuation of $125 B, in order to build a digital economy and reward its builder community.
Discord acquires augmented reality startup Ubiquity6. The AR cloud company that created the spectacular scanning app, Display.Land, bailed on its ambitious plans, concluding it would take too long to monetize. In the face of brutal competition and huge costs, they folded their hand. Last time I spoke to co-founder and CEO Anjney Midha they were contemplating giving money back to investors. Discord and U6 share a number of VC investors, so this is the way they did it.
TikTok’s Chinese nemesis Kuaishou hits 1 billion monthly users worldwide. The Chinese short-video company sailed past the one billion monthly active user (MAU) mark, closing in on TikTok’s 1.2 MAUs. China remains Kuaishou’s key market.
Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson tells Venture Beat’s Dean Takahashi how they’re getting traction with their enterprise pivot.
Fortnite’s new virtual concert might be its trippiest yet (Andrew Webster/The Verge)
Shopify Dives Deeper Into Camera Commerce (Mike Boland/AR Insider)
Which US Cities Have The Best 5G? (Whistleout)
This Week in XR is now a podcast hosted by Paramount’s Futurist Ted Schilowitz and Charlie Fink, the author of this weekly column. You can find it on podcasting platforms Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube. Watch the latest episode below.
Charlie Fink is an author and futurist focused on spatial computing. See his books here. Spatial Beats contains insights and inputs from Fink’s collaborators including Paramount Pictures futurist Ted Shilowitz.