Alibaba Dives Deeper Into the Metaverse Craze As It Leads AR Glasses Maker Nreal’s $60M Raise

Chinese internet giant Alibaba has dived deeper into the metaverse waters after leading AR glasses maker Nreal’s $60 million funding round.
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Quick take:

  • Alibaba is expanding its investment in the metaverse.
  • The Chinese internet giant led Nreal’s $60 million fundraising on Wednesday.
  • Nreal makes smart glasses used in augmented reality environments.

Alibaba on Wednesday led smart glasses maker Nreal’s $60 million funding round, deepening its investments in projects linked to the metaverse. Nreal makes augmented reality (AR) glasses used to create virtual interactions within real-life environments.

The Beijing based startup says it will use the funds to revamp its research and development team as it continues to scale globally. Nreal has previously raised funds from Kuaishou and iQiyi. The company said the $60 million Series C raise puts its total fundraisings over the past year at about $200 million.

Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital, Sequoia China, Hillhouse, NIO Capital, Aplus, CICC Capital, CPE, Shunwei Capital and China Growth Capital are among those that have backed the smart glasses maker in the previous funding rounds.

Nreal is targeting Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Spain and Germany for overseas expansion. Smart glasses are a key component of the extended reality market, which is redefining virtual interactions. 

“We are seeing an increase in interest from companies across a wide range of industries, as they’re exploring ways to not only integrate AR technology across their existing business but also create transformational and interactive augmented reality experiences,” commented Nreal CEO Chi Xu.

Alibaba is one of the leading Chinese companies looking to capitalise on the explosive growth of the metaverse. The company has launched the Alibaba Cloud metaverse solution, a platform that supports all the pillars of investment in the immersive virtual world.

Alibaba Cloud specifically focuses on the four pillars including gaming, e-commerce, intelligence space and social entertainment.

Late last year, the Alibaba Group registered a new company called Yuanjing Shengsheng that will test the gaming potential of the metaverse. 

Although the business unit was registered for software development and services operations, the SCMP cited a local publisher, which quoted people from the company saying that its main purpose was to focus on gaming activities in the metaverse.

China has strict regulations on blockchain games that allow players to earn rewards for competing in various activities. However, leading Chinese technology giants have found a way around this rule by building unique metaverses that do not allow digital asset transactions.

Early this year, Alibaba’s subsidiary DingTalk launched augmented reality glasses that can be used to attend virtual meetings in the metaverse. The startup, which has over 500 million users, is trying to introduce real-world workplace activities into the metaverse through its new gadgets, SCMP reported in January.

Alibaba has reportedly invested over $1 billion into AR and VR-related startups over the past few years, as it makes its deep dive into the metaverse.

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