AI-generated avatar creation cross-platform startup Ready Player Me raises $56 million in a Series B funding round led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
On Tuesday, Ready Player Me, a startup platform that helps people create virtual avatars to use across the Metaverse, announced that it had raised $56 million in fresh capital from a Series B funding round. It followed a Series A funding round led by Taavet+Sten in December 2021, when the company raised $13 million in funds.
Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) led the Series B financing. Other participants in the funding round were Konvoy Ventures, the D’Amelio family, Collab Currency, Sten Tamkivi’s Plural Platform, Taavet Hinrikus, Sebastian Knutsson and Riccardo Zacconi of King Games, Kevin Hart’s Hartbeat Ventures, and Snowfro. Also backing the round were high-profile angel investors Punk6529, Roblox co-founder David Baszucki, and Twitch co-founder Justin Kan.
Ready Player Me’s Two-Fold Series B Deal
According to Ready Player Me CEO and co-founder Timmu Tõke, the Series B funding is the first part of a two-for-one deal. The second part would have a16z’s Jonathan Lai and Plural’s Tamkivi joining Ready Player Me’s newly-created board of directors.
Tõke believes cross-platform connectivity could be the key that unlocks the Metaverse. He says the company will use the $56 million funding to scale the cross-platform Metaverse avatar system.
“What will unlock the true metaverse experience is interoperability between games, worlds, and applications and a consistent identity for users across all experiences,” Tõke said on Tuesday. “We think it’s essential for virtual worlds users to create an avatar they love and buy avatar skins and accessories that work across the Metaverse and are not stuck in one game.”
“This infusion of funds will allow Ready Player Me to continue scaling the avatar system to make it more flexible for developers, create new tools to help developers monetize with avatar assets, and build tools for individual creators to take part of the cross-game avatar marketplace,” he added.
A Closer Look at Ready Player Me
Ready Player Me’s avatar system isn’t new. It was a system identified with a company called Wolf3D, which Tõke started in 2014. Wolf3D developed hardware, scanned over 20,000 people using roughly 100 cameras, and collected a proprietary database of face scans over the years. Ready Player Me is a platform based on Wolf3D’s technology.
Both direct users and developers can take advantage of Ready Player Me’s avatar system. Users can use the platform to create avatars for free, while developers can seamlessly integrate the platform into apps they’ve developed to fetch ready-to-use avatars for free, too.
According to Tõke, the platform has over 3,000 partners, including Somnium Space, Nike-owned NFT studio RTFKT, which have integrated the Ready Player Me platform. It works with Mzaalo, Pixelynx, Hiber, 8th Wall, and the Nemesis platform.
Ready Player Me has also formed partnerships with several well-known companies, including Warner Brothers and top fashion brands Dior, Adidas, and Pull&Bear, for users’ creation of custom avatars. The platform has also completed custom avatar infrastructure for corporate giants Tencent, HTC, Wargaming, and Verizon.
Per Tõke, the next step for the platform is to build “content tools” for avatars, which means anyone can create accessories for avatars. “We’re building tools to scale our platform so that any individual artist or creator can take part, create assets and sell them on the open marketplace,” he said.
Ready Player Me’s Financing
Lai, a general partner at a16z, said the investment company was “impressed by the team,” prompting the company to lead the funding round. He also noted that a16z looks forward to working with the platform.
“Ready Player Me is loved by both developers and players as the largest platform for avatar-systems-as-a-service and is well on their way to building the interoperable identity protocol for the open Metaverse,” Lai explained during Tuesday’s announcement.
The Series B funding round brings Ready Player Me’s total funding to $72 million. As mentioned in the get-go, the firm raised $13 million a Series A funding and $3 million in another round. However, Tõke declined to comment on the firm’s valuation after this recent round.
According to Tõke, Ready Player Me generates revenue from selling in-game assets through its partners. “We take a revenue share from all of the purchases that happen through our ecosystem,” he said.
The firm’s goal is to open up the Metaverse since, according to Tõke, today’s games and virtual worlds are “closed ecosystems” where players must buy new assets for each game and virtual platform. On the other hand, Ready Player Me is interoperable, which means users can use the same avatar across virtual worlds.
Nevertheless, its current team must be scaled to meet the firm’s expansion plans. Currently, there are 50 team members, which Tõke says they plan to double by next year.
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