Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. led a 60 million investment in Chinese augmented reality glasses maker Nreal and Tencent Holdings Ltd. to claim the future of Metavers. And ByteDance Ltd. Joined
The so-called Series C funding round has brought the total Nreal to 200 200 million in 12 months, the Beijing Association said in a statement without disclosing its latest valuation. The startup was valued at $ 700 million in the previous round announced in September 2021, CNBC reported at the time citing an unnamed source.
Alibaba’s investment is in pursuit of a possible future version of the Internet, which combines aspects of virtual reality, social media and other digital technologies, following similar movements of other Chinese Internet giants focusing on Metavers. Last year, TikTok owner ByteDance bought virtual reality gear maker Pico and Tencent gaming handset startup Black Shark is close to a deal, Bloomberg reported in January.
Nreal was founded in 2017 by Xu Chi, a former engineer with American AR startup Magic Leap Inc. In 2019, Magic Leap sued Xu for allegedly stealing company secrets, but a U.S. judge later ruled in Nreal’s favor and the case was dropped.
Alibaba invested in Magic Leap in early 2016, when the company was among the most reputable startups in the US with backers like Alphabet Inc. But the Florida-based company struggled to sell its customer headsets and has since turned to enterprise services.
Nreal now has about 400 employees and is based in the US Verizon Communications Inc. Spectacles are sold through co-carriers, the startup said. Its investors include big-name enterprises and other tech giants, such as Kuaishou Technology, iQiyi Inc., Sequoia China, Hillhouse and Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital.