Alibaba has become the largest investor in the latest round of funding for Chinese company Nreal, which specializes in technologies for the metaverse. Now the manufacturer’s range includes two augmented reality glasses: the Light and Air models.
The concept of the metaverse has become the hottest trend in the high-tech world in recent months. There is no strict definition of the term yet, but it usually means virtual worlds designed for both gaming and work. This industry also includes solutions based on augmented reality. Many players in the tech market are now actively investing in this space, including Chinese giants Tencent and Alibaba.
After receiving $60 million from Alibaba, Nreal said it would spend the money on research and development programs and accelerate expansion into new markets for itself, including China — now making products in South Korea, Japan, Spain and sold to the United States. The Beijing startup managed to raise funds from the biggest investors. During the September round, investments totaled $100 million and participants included Nio Capital (an investment arm of the electric vehicle manufacturer of the same name) and Sequoia Capital China. At the time, the company’s valuation was $700 million. Also among the investors are Chinese short video platform Kuaishou and Chinese streaming company iQIYI (owned by Baidu).
Alibaba’s investment in Nreal may indicate the companies are planning some kind of joint venture — last year Nreal and Nio announced augmented reality glasses for electric vehicles.