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Google acquires digital avatar startup for its metaverse bet

Oct 28, 2022
Illustration of Google logo with binoculars for the “O O”

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Alphabet quietly acquired Alter, a New York-based tech startup building digital avatars, a company spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Meta is far from the only tech giant investing in the metaverse. Digital avatars, in particular, have populated other tech platforms, and third-party companies have gained investor interest, such as Genies' $1 billion valuation.

Details: The $100 million deal was completed two months ago, according to TechCrunch, which first reported the news. But it came without a public announcement.

  • Google spokesperson Mariana De Felice confirmed the acquisition to Axios but declined to specify any details.
  • That two-month timeline matches a LinkedIn post from Alter's COO announcing his new role at Google. It also aligns with Alter founder and CEO Robin Raszka's LinkedIn profile that says he left in August. Raszka declined to comment to Axios.

Catch up quick: Alter, previously known as Facemoji, sought to make digital avatars ubiquitous by making its tech available for free to all developers.

  • Last October, the company announced $3 million in seed funding led by Play Ventures. Twitter, Roosh Ventures and other individuals also participated.
  • "We dream of a whole new MCU-like ecosystem where UGC, IP, NFTs, and users can effortlessly transcend the silos of digital spaces, games to even animated series on Netflix," Raszka said at the time.

The intrigue: Will Genies and other digital avatar startups continue to grow independently? Or will they find homes within tech giants, like Snap's acquisition of Bitstrips and this latest move by Google?

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