UK virtual reality startup Improbable raises $502 million

A UK-based virtual reality startup called Improbable has raised $502m in a round of Series B funding led by Japan’s SoftBank.

Virtual reality is software that creates a simulation. The user goes into that simulation and feels as if he or she is somewhere else.

Improbable, which was founded in 2012 by Herman Narula and Rob Whitehead, has created a platform for use in games and to build vast virtual and simulated worlds. After this recent funding round the company is valued at over $1 billion.

Improbable to remain independent

Despite the investment from Japan, Improbable will remain independent. Softbank will hold a minority, non-controlling stake in the startup.

According to Improbable, the funds from the investment go towards the development of Improbable’s technology, including its SpatialOS distributed operating system for massive-scale simulations which has been in live beta since March.

“We believe that the next major phase in computing will be the emergence of large-scale virtual worlds which enrich human experience and change how we understand the real world. At Improbable we have spent the last few years building the foundational infrastructure for this vision,” said Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable.

Hiring new staff

The startup said in a press release that it plans on accelerating recruitment in its London and San Francisco offices and “develop a vibrant ecosystem of developers and customers.”

Game developers are already using Improbable’s SpatialOS to create games that can take advantage of the products ability to manage larger scale, higher player numbers and easy scaling in a virtual world.

Considerably more growth possible

Herman Narula added:

“The global games market is already huge, and we believe that far more growth is possible.

“The kinds of games enabled by SpatialOS – multiplayer games allowing players to form meaningful relationships with games worlds and with each other – will be category-defining, and attract new audiences.

“This investment reflects the potential size and importance of the market for this next generation of games and, ultimately, how massive-scale virtual worlds could become fundamental to how society works.

“SoftBank is a perfect partner for us, with many complementary investments in their portfolio. This investment will allow us to take the big, bold steps needed to fully realise our vision.”

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