Niantic Raises $300 Million At $9 Billion Valuation To Build the ‘Real-World Metaverse’

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Niantic, the augmented reality platform that's developing games like Pokemon GO, raised $300 million from Coatue, valuing the company at $9 billion. The San Fransisco-based startup, which initially spun out of Google, will use this money to build what it calls the "real-world metaverse." As early as August, Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke has referred to the metaverse -- at least, the one that renders us bound to VR headsets, like in "Ready Player One" -- as a "dystopian nightmare." Unlike Facebook, which changed its company name to Meta to signal its investment in VR technology, Niantic wants to develop technology that brings people closer to the outside world. Earlier this month, Niantic unveiled its Lightship AR Developer Kit (ARDK), which makes tools to develop AR games publicly available for free to anyone who has a basic knowledge of the Unity game engine. "At Niantic, we believe humans are the happiest when their virtual world leads them to a physical one," Hanke said at the time. "Unlike a sci-fi metaverse, a real-world metaverse will use technology to improve our experience of the world as we've known it for thousands of years." The funding will help expand the ARDK, which has already been used by companies like Coachella, Historic Royal Palaces, Universal Pictures, SoftBank, Warner Music Group and the PGA of America to create augmented reality experiences.

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