Ready Player Me, a platform that allows people to create virtual avatars that can be used across the metaverse, has raised $56 million in a Series B funding round amid the crypto funding slump.
Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) led the round, with Konvoy Ventures, Collab Currency, Taavet Hinrikus and Sten Tamkivi's Plural Platform and comedian Kevin Hart's Hartbeat Ventures participating. High-profile angel investors, including Roblox co-founder David Baszucki, Twitch co-founder Justin Kan and Punk6529, also backed the round.
As part of the deal, a16z's Jonathan Lai and Plural's Tamkivi have also joined Ready Player Me's newly created board of directors, Ready Player Me's co-founder and CEO Timmu Toke told The Block in an interview.
But the Ready Player Me avatar system isn't new. Toke started the effort in 2014 with a company called Wolf3D, which built custom avatar systems for companies like Tencent, Verizon and HTC. The Ready Player Me platform is based on Wolf3D's technology. Toke said that over the years, the company made hardware, scanned over 20,000 people with around 100 cameras, and collected a proprietary database of face scans, which allowed it to create Ready Player Me around two years ago.
Ready Player Me caters to both direct users as well as developers. Users can create avatars on its platform for free and developers can integrate the platform into their apps to fetch ready-to-use avatars, also for free.
Toke said more than 3,000 partners, including VRChat, Somnium Space and Nike-owned NFT studio RTFKT, have integrated the Ready Player Me platform. Top fashion brands such as Adidas and Dior also work with the firm to allow their users to make custom avatars.
The next step is to build "content tools" for avatars, Toke said, meaning anyone could 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.
As for Ready Player Me's business model, the firm generates revenue from the sale of in-game assets through its partners, according to Toke. "We take a revenue share from all of the purchases that happen through our ecosystem," he said.
To help meet its expansion plans, Ready Player Me is also scaling its team at a time when layoffs are currently commonplace in crypto and beyond. The firm's current headcount is around 50 and plans to double its headcount by the next year, said Toke.
Ready Player Me's overall goal is to open up the metaverse. Toke said today's games and virtual worlds are "closed ecosystems" where one has to buy new assets for every game and virtual platform. Ready Player Me, on the other hand, is interoperable and the same avatar can be used across virtual worlds, he said.
The Series B round brings Ready Player Me's total funding to date to $72 million. The firm has previously raised $16 million in two rounds, Toke said. He declined to comment on the firm's valuation with the latest round.
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