Welcome back to Spatial Beats. This week, we look at Meta’s ongoing moves, Snap’s rough week, and several other items from the spatial spectrum.
Jumping right in, Beijing’s Metaverse initiative, announced on a municipal (not national) level, was published in early August. The development plan requires local municipalities to track and integrate the Metaverse into education and tourism. The initiative also emphasizes the development of NFTs and Digital Humans.
Varjo Raises $40M Series D Funding to Expand Cloud-based XR Platform. The maker of dizzyingly high-definition enterprise XR headsets announced it closed a $40 million Series D backed by returning investors EQT Ventures, Atomico, Volvo Car Tech Fund, Lifeline Ventures, Mirabaud and Foxconn, a large Chinese electronics manufacturer. Since 2017, Varjo has raised $162.5 M, with the company’s Series C investment of $54 million in 2020.
Meta Acquires Berlin-based Haptic Tech Startup Lofelt. The deal apparently happened months ago, according to the Wall Street Journal. In 2021, Cameron Faultner described his demo of the company’s software in The Verge: “The vibrations varied in strength and duration depending on the kind of gun being shot, and I was able to feel distinct pulsations of a helicopter soaring through the sky.” The company has raised ten million since its founding in 2014.
After you’ve laid off 20% of the company on Friday, what do you say to the survivors on Monday? In a leaked internal email, CEO Evan Spiegel admitted being “punched in the face” by a cratering stock price and brutal layoffs. Nonetheless, he set the ambitious goal of growing Snapchat’s user base by 30%, to 450 million by the end of 2023. He says Snap will generate $350 million from the paid subscription it recently introduced. To make things just a tad more awkward, Spiegel just bought LA’s most expensive real estate for $120M. Not a good look to the newly unemployed and their former colleagues. At the Vox code conference, Spiegel told Kara Swisher he has no plans to sell the company.
Enliven Raises $1M from seed-focused VC LUMO Labs. The Arnhem-based company uses VR to do empathy training for workplace training and domestic situations related to divorce, domestic violence, and mental illness. The company’s website says it is “The first virtual reality company dedicated to social good.”
Librarium, a VR app that offers education courses developed by Kaplan, is launching on the Quest today.
Tipatat Chennavasin On VR unicorns, Apple’s headset, XR M&A (Protocol/Janko Roettgers)
Clocking In at the Virtual Reality Kmart (Megan Farokmhmanes/Wired)
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.