IMVU rebooted as Together Labs, raising $ 35 million from Structural Capital, NetEase, and other investors. Together Labs has also created a new division called WithMe Entertainment, which will focus on user-generated content, including games.
Together Labs will continue to run IMVU, a social platform where young people create their own avatars. Now it is moving to an adjoining room and, via WithMe, is aimed at teenagers aged 13-17.
A common thread between the divisions will be VCoin, Together Labs’ new transferable digital currency that allows users to buy, give away, hold, earn and convert income into real money. The company launched VCoin on January 12, after the Securities and Exchange Commission approved a plan in November to enable payments in the virtual world via a blockchain-based cryptocurrency.
“This structure enables us to bring new brands, new products and even new business areas to market and thus minimize brand confusion,” said Daren Tsui, CEO of Together Labs, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We are very happy about the financing. The purpose of this growth capital is so that we can grow more aggressively and use it for product development in different business areas. The restructuring of the corporate structure resulted in significantly clearer brands. “
Photo credit: Together Labs
Based in Redwood City, California, the company wants VCoin to power the virtual economy in the Metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, as in novels like Snow Crash and Ready Player One. IMVU will talk about this development at our GamesBeat Summit: In the Metaverse event on January 27th and 28th. Together Labs could partner with other companies that may also use VCoin that has received SEC clearances.
VCoin is a major development for IMVU, which has 7 million monthly active users who exchange 14 billion credits per month and perform 27.5 million one-time transactions per month. Today there are more than 50 million products available on the market. The catalog is growing by 400,000 items a month.
“We had record-breaking traffic in 2020,” said Tsui.
All of this – as well as the strong growth in social media and games during the pandemic – helped Together Labs raise money from investors such as NetEase, one of the major Chinese online game service providers.
The WithMe division will focus on building friendships through shared experiences in virtual spaces, including user-generated games, Tsui said. IMVU will also be holding a session at our Metaverse event entitled “Making Friends in the Metaverse”.
“Our mission is to strengthen friendship and enable our users to have a very authentic connection,” said Tsui. “There will be a vibrant ecosystem of service providers and developers who can perform and get paid for peer-to-peer transactions. WithMe is a natural addition to IMVU. “
Photo credit: Together Labs
Together Labs will focus on creating products that redefine social media as a catalyst for authentic human connections. Kai Tse, managing partner of Structural Capital, said in a statement that the fund is impressed with IMVU’s growing business and new initiatives that position it at the intersection of social media and gaming.
With IMVU, users interact socially through avatars they have created and can meet and chat in spaces they design. Many users are focused on music, fashion, and other interests and can sell clothes and other items they have created. IMVU and WithMe will have separate product teams.
Tsui said WithMe users will be able to create simple games like quizzes and share them with friends. Users can use scripting logic and a 3D engine to create their games.
“Our games will be much more social by nature,” said Tsui. “Our activities are more of an escape room than a battle royale. You can collaborate and communicate with other people. You can also draw together or watch YouTube together. “
Lindsay Anne Aamodt, Marketing Director at Together Labs, said in an interview: “It’s more about solving problems together.”
That sounds a lot more like Roblox, the children’s virtual world with 150 million monthly active users. But Tsui said his company will target users older than the average Roblox user.
Photo credit: IMVU
“We want to grow more aggressively from a user perspective,” said Tsui. “We’ve been very good at monetizing our users. But we feel we can do a lot more. “
Aamodt says Together Labs is aiming to become a leader in the Metaverse space, with each department focused on that goal.
IMVU was founded in 2004 and last raised money in 2008. The company raised a total of $ 77 million. Together Labs employs around 250 people.
Last week, the Blockchain Game Alliance – a group dedicated to promoting blockchain in the gaming industry – announced the inclusion of VCoin. As a member of the BGA, VCoin will join various other blockchain and gaming companies including The Sandbox, Enjin, Animoca Brands and Dapper Labs.
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