Virtual world creator Improbable receives $502M investment from SoftBank

Here’s another reminder that we really shouldn’t take our eyes off of Improbable Worlds, even for a second. The five-year-old software company, which is specializing in creating massive virtual worlds for simulations and games, just received over a half-billion dollar investment from a Japanese telecommunications corporation.

SoftBank injected $502 million into Improbable this week in one of the largest U.K. venture capital deals of all time. This investment puts one of SoftBank’s members on Improbable’s boards and sees SoftBank create a non-controlling stake in the company.

To make a good week even better for Improbable, venture firms Andreessen Horowitz and Horizon Ventures also committed additional funds to the tech startup and its SpatialOS software. “Having backed Improbable from the start, we continue to see huge potential in the application of its technology, both for solving real-world problems and in changing the future of the games industry,” said Horizons Ventures founder Solina Chau.

Creating massive simulations and complex virtual worlds is a very expensive prospect, which is why the capital investment was needed. Improbable currently employs 180 people and said that it will use these funds to hire more programmers, computer scientists, and support staff.

Improbable and SpatialOS have been linked with many up-and-coming MMO projects, including Worlds Adrift, Lazarus, Chronicles of Elyria, and Metaworld.

Source: Bloomberg, VentureBeat, BBC. Thanks Theryl, HolyAvengerOne, and Elio!
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14 Comments on "Virtual world creator Improbable receives $502M investment from SoftBank"

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steve

Wow. That’s half a unicorn in silicon valley terms. Can we get a visualization, Schlag?

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Schlag Sweetleaf

I’ve got two shots across VR’s bow already, probably just sit this one out:)

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Melissa McDonald

LOL aw c’mon I’ve never known you to run from the face of comedy!!

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Koshelkin

Excellent, even though I don’t think it will be, can’t be, their focus I hope we see some progress in regards to virtual worlds in games. ~ Here’s hoping.

Theryl
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Theryl

Of course, the real money isn’t in games. From the Improbable CEO’s announcement:

“We are already working on projects with telecommunications companies, governments and other enterprise clients to explore the ability of massive, detailed simulations to drive better decisions using real-world data and hope to talk more about this in the future.”

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Mark Jacobs

As a developer who is making our own engine to do a lot (not all) of the same things, this makes me smile on a whole lot of levels.

OTOH, we’re not in Beta 1 yet so I can’t smile too much.

Congrats to the Improbable guys and gals, that’s a helluva valuation!

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Nordavind

This is not the first time SoftBank invests in gaming, they have previously made deals with Niantic and their most excellent (yet under-covered (sorry I could not resist <3)) game Ingress :D

SoftBank got their own very rare item in the game, and I'm guessing money went the other way. IIRC they also turned SoftBank locations into portals like they did with AXA Insurance.

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MesaSage

Well, that was quick. I just mention this kind of thing in Overthinking and here it is. Have I mentioned that I want to win the lottery?

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Melissa McDonald

So, this is just a technology, an engine or construct, not a game or virtual world?

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Dobablo

Improbable do world-simulators/engines. Lots of in development MMOs seem to be using their engine.

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Armsbend

This is Rhode Island + Curt Shilling x 1,000,000. Can you imagine the risk on an unknown for half a Bill? Good heavens that is quite literally insane.

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Koshelkin

I doubt it. I bet the investement ties them to research in different sectors than games.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

What price Narnia?

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Nordavind

Jamiroquai! Virtual insanity!