The metaverse just got another big support from Sand Hill Road.
Ready Player Me, a cross-game avatar system, announced Tuesday that it has closed a $56 million Series B round. Among his backers: Andreessen Horowitz, the co-founders of Roblox and Twitch, and entertainer Kevin Hart’s venture fund.
This latest round brings the total investment in Ready Player Me to $72 million. (Total valuation was not disclosed.) The company plans to use the money to expand its team and shift its focus from developer-centric tools to user-centric tools that allow people to create and sell items related to their avatars ( like outfits). Avatars created with the company’s system can be used in any supported metaverse experience, allowing people to carry their gaze between virtual worlds.
Founded in 2014, Ready Player Me currently offers developers access to its avatar creation toolwhich can save six months to several years of development time, and allow players to experience some visual consistency between games.
“The metaverse is not one game, one place, or one platform,” said Timmu Tõke, co-founder and CEO of Ready Player Me. londonbusinessblog.com. “It’s a network of thousands or millions of virtual ones. So it makes sense that the users of the metaverse have an avatar that travels through many virtual worlds with them, rather than being stuck in one game. That is the problem we solve for end users.”
Currently Ready Player Me has a team of 50 employees, mostly spread across Europe. As the company moves into its next phase, Tõke says, it will build the US team, increasing the number of employees by 20 to 30.
More than 3,000 apps in both Web 2.0 and Web3 are currently integrating Ready Player Me into their process, including VRChat and Spatial. The company also has a number of major brands among its customers, such as Adidas, Dior and Warner Bros. products that integrate with the avatars. (For example, outfits from the movie Dune are available for Ready Player Me avatars.)
Creating an avatar through Ready Player Me is a simple process. Just upload a photo of yourself or use your phone/tablet/PC camera and the system will do the rest, allowing you to personalize and customize the results. To date, more than 5 million avatars have been created, but Tõke refused to give active user numbers.
“Ready Player Me is . . . good on [its] way to build the interoperable identity protocol for the open metaverse,” Jonathan Lai, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said in a statement. “We are deeply impressed by the mix of developer empathy, technical chops and entrepreneurial pragmatism, and couldn’t be more excited to partner with them on this journey.”
While companies like Meta and epic games creating restricted areas of the metaverse, Ready Player Me is betting on an open-gate future where users can jump between the creators’ worlds.
“The metaverse has two paths,” says Tõke. “One is one centralized model that is owned by a few big companies that make all the rules. The other is more open, where worlds are connected and people can travel between those worlds, and it’s more like the internet than today’s game worlds.”
It’s no secret to Tõke what the better way is: “We think the open metaverse has to happen and is a better future for virtual worlds,” he says.
By betting against the closed metaverse, Ready Player Me looks set to compete against business enthusiasts like Mark Zuckerberg, but Tõke says the benefits of an open metaverse will eventually become financially irresistible, especially as people become more accustomed to spending real money there. .
“We believe that if you have avatars and accessories that travel through worlds, you build a bigger world around avatars,” he says. “People are more likely to pay for a skin that works in 1,000 games — or enough games you play — than for a skin that stays in one game forever. We’re trying to create a marketplace that’s accessible to everyone.”