An automated status updater for Slack isn’t the only thing Mozilla has acquired this week. On Wednesday, the company announced that it has been snatched Active replicaa Vancouver-based startup developing a “web-based metaverse.”
According to Mozilla SVP Imo Udom, Active Replica supports Mozilla’s ongoing work with Hubs, its VR chat room service and open source project. In particular, he sees the Active Replica team working on personalized subscription levels, improving the onboarding experience and introducing new interaction capabilities in Hubs.
“Together we see this as an important opportunity to bring even more innovation and creativity to Hubs than we could alone,” Udom said in a blog post. “We will benefit from their unique experience and ability to create great experiences that help organizations use virtual spaces to increase impact. They will benefit from our scale, talent and ability to bring their innovations to market faster.”
Active Replica was founded in 2020 by Jacob Ervin and Valerian Denis. Ervin is a software engineer by trade and has held positions at AR/VR startups Metaio, Liminal AR and Occipital. Denis has a history in project management – he worked for VR companies including BackLight, which specializes in location-based and immersive VR experiences for brands.
With Active Replica, Ervin and Denis sought to build a platform for virtual events and meetings on top of Mozilla’s Hubs project. Active Replica sold virtual event packages that included venue design, event planning, live entertainment, and technical support.
Prior to the acquisition, Active Replica had not announced any outside financing. Ervin and Denis have taken on new jobs at Mozilla in recent weeks, now as senior engineering manager and product lead respectively.
“Mozilla has long advocated for a healthier Internet and has been an inspiration to us in its dedication and contributions to the open web. By joining forces with the Mozilla Hubs team, we can further expand our mission and inspire a new generation of makers, connectors and builders,” said Ervin and Denis in a statement. pronunciation. “Active Replica will continue to work with our existing customers, partners and community.”
Mozilla launched Hubs in 2018, which it presented as an “experiment” in “immersive social experiences” at the time. Hubs provides the developer tools and infrastructure necessary to enable users to visit a portal through any browser and collaborate with others in a VR environment. Hubs adheres to web standards and supports all common headsets and glasses (e.g. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive), while remaining open to those without specialized VR hardware on desktops and smartphones.
Hubs recently expanded to launch a $20 per month service that did away with the previously free service but introduced account management tools, privacy and security features. According to Mozilla, the plan is to roll out additional levels and reintroduce a free version in the future, along with kits to create custom spaces, avatar and identity options, and integrations with existing collaboration tools.
Mozilla’s forays into the metaverse have had mixed results. While Hubs is alive and well, as evidenced by its acquisition of Active Replica, Meta Firefox Reality, its attempt to create a full-featured browser for AR and VR headsets, halted in February 2022. To explain why it decided to close Firefox Reality, Mozilla said that while it does help develop new technologies such as WebVR and WebARit doesn’t always keep hosting and incubating those technologies in the long run.