By Sandy Miller, Eric Liaw, Parsa Saljoughian, and Jason Kong
Today, IVP is thrilled to announce our investment in Niantic, the leader in mobile augmented reality (AR) experiences. IVP is leading Niantic’s $245 million Series C financing and is joined by investors aXiomatic Gaming, Battery Ventures, Causeway Media Partners, CRV, and Samsung Ventures. At IVP, we have been fortunate to invest in a number of category-defining consumer businesses, including Discord, HomeAway, Lime, Snap, Supercell, Twitter, and Zynga, among others. We are excited to partner with Niantic to help bring people together through experiences that marry advanced technology and the real world. Below we highlight a few key reasons why we invested.
The Pokemon (R)evolution
In July 2016, the dreams of a whole generation became a reality. Niantic, having spun out of Google in 2015, teamed up with The Pokémon Company to develop and release Pokémon GO, a location-based, augmented reality mobile game that allowed players to take on the role of a Pokémon Trainer to explore the world and discover their favorite Pokémon. What followed was a cultural explosion with the app smashing expectations and records. According to App Annie, Pokémon GO became the fastest game ever to generate $500 million in revenue and was the most downloaded game worldwide in 2016. In total, the game has grossed over $2 billion in revenue and has been downloaded over 800 million times. In the last year, Niantic has invested significantly into the trainer community and has launched new features including friending and player-vs-player trainer battles, adding layers of depth to the game. The title has proven to be incredibly durable, and Pokémon GO continues to rank among the top mobile games in engagement, revenue, and average time spent per month. Despite its outstanding success, we believe that Pokémon GO has barely scratched the surface in terms of the immersive potential of augmented reality. Niantic has also developed a differentiating competency around building community through festival-style events. The company produces dozens of events each year which attract millions of trainers from around the world.
Pokémon GO Safari Zone Event, Dortmund, Germany, June 2018
Bringing Magic to Life
While for many companies, the singular success of a product like Pokémon GO would lead to a sense of satisfaction, Niantic (and IVP) believe we are just at the beginning of the AR era. In fact, to take the next step in that journey, your help is requested by the Ministry of Magic! Brush up on your spells, get your wand ready, and enlist now! This year, Niantic will further blur the boundaries of reality and fantasy with its new title Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World and the Harry Potter franchise. Having received a sneak peek into the gameplay, we’re excited by the game’s potential to captivate millions around the world by bringing the fantastical world previously only accessible by imagination to life. The power of Niantic’s games do not lie solely in the IP, but in the company’s ability to weave creative gameplay, compelling storylines, and existing media franchises into our everyday world. Pokémon GO and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite are just the beginning, and we can’t wait for you to see what Niantic has in store for the future.
The Real World, Redefined
While IVP has successfully invested in numerous gaming companies over the years, we ultimately view Niantic as much more than a mobile game development company. At IVP, we view augmented reality as a form factor that has the potential to be even more disruptive than the initial wave of mobile in terms of how consumers engage with technology. Rather than viewing the digital world through our phones, the day will come when the digital world resides next to the real world. While we are several steps of technological development away, Niantic has stepped into the forefront of AR development and has the opportunity to create a technology standard. Niantic recently opened up its Real World Platform to developers and continues to invest in initiatives focused on AR mapping and computer vision. IVP couldn’t be more excited to partner with John Hanke and the entire Niantic team to continue bringing the world together through AR.
Sandy Miller, Eric Liaw, Parsa Saljoughian, and Jason Kong are Investors at IVP, a later-stage venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, CA.