High Fidelity raises a further US $35million funding

High Fidelity, the social VR company established by Philip Rosedale, has netted a further US $35 million in venture capital in a block D round of funding.

The funding was led by Blockchain investment firm Galaxy Digital Ventures (US $20 million), along with Blockchain Capital, Vulcan Capital, Breyer Capital, and IDG Capital Partners. The funding round marks a further investment point for Vulcan Capital, the company founded by former Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. In 2014, the company led a block C round of investment in High Fidelity that raised US $11 million for the company. As a part of the investment by Galaxy Digital Venture, co-founder Sam Englebardt will join the High Fidelity board of directors.

We’re happy to announce today that we have raised $35M in a new round of investment led by Galaxy Digital, with additional participation from Blockchain Capital, as well as our existing investors. This round brings the total investment in High Fidelity to more than $70M and will enable us to substantially increase R&D and Hiring.

Part of the High Fidelity announcement of the block D investment round

The involvement of companies particularly focused on blockchain technology is perhaps indicative of High Fidelity’s own promotion and use of blockchain technology. In late 2017, the company announced its blockchain-enabled currency and IP protection plans, which was followed at the end of 2017  and early 2018 by the deployment of their commerce tools, currency and Digital Assets Rights (DAR) capabilities.

Sam Englebardt co-founder and Head of Strategic Partnerships at Galaxy Digital led the company’s $20 million investment in High Fidelity, and joins HiFi’s board. Via everpedia

These tools and capabilities mean that High Fidelity users actually own the digital goods they buy, tying the goods directly to their digital persona. A key factor with the system is that it is completely decentralised, providing a high degree of redundancy and security.

As well as working directly on blockchain technology for their own platform, High Fidelity has also been the prime mover behind the Virtual Reality Blockchain Alliance (VRBA), a group of early adopter companies aiming to let users’ avatars move freely between platforms and bring their blockchain-linked purchases with them.

This broad-based approach to using blockchain technology  for things like asset management, rights management  and tracking, authentication, etc., as well as for management digital currency flow and exchange within the domain of virtual environments, is the thing that has investors excited as it offers a means of testing the kind of blockchain capabilities that could have far-reaching impact on our ability to interact and do business with one another through digital means (directly and corporately).

Virtual reality may be the first killer app for blockchain. It’s a global phenomenon that fundamentally requires a trustless consensus mechanism for currency, property and identity Ventures. That’s what the new generation of blockchain protocols like EOS enable, and High Fidelity has the vision, team and open platform to lead the worldwide transition from atoms to bits.

Sam Englebardt, founding partner of Galaxy Digital Ventures

In the meantime, with Second Life turning over around Us $700 million a year in transactions, Philip Rosedale doubtless has an eye on the potential of a whole new, and broad-based virtual currently capability – particularly as he sees a market of a billion people in around a decade’s time, engaged in VR spaces to socialise share, create, buy, sell, learn, and so on.

Even without the potential for blockchain outside of these virtual spaces, the $72 million so far invested in High Fidelity seems to suggest people are persuaded by his views and ideas – and the care with which High Fidelity is building-out its back-end systems to achieve their aims, rather than focusing on glossy front-end capabilities which can so often be a focus of user wants, is also perhaps testament to their determination to present a global platform.

High Fidelity recently launch a VR tour of Nefertari’s tomb from ancient Egypt, and experience that somewhat echoes Sansar’s Voyages Live experiences. Credit: High Fidelity

Which is not to say the company is solely focused on back-end work. Recently, HiFi has been promoting a range of new experiences to demonstrate the broad-based social capabilities of High Fidelity, some of which echo moves by Linden Lab with Sansar. These include:

  • Nefertari: Journey to Eternity by CuriosityStream — students and adults enter an Egyptian tomb captured in 3D for a guided tour led by an Egyptologist (not unlike Sansar’s Voyages Live: Egypt experiences and activities)
  • Speaker Series — join the audience in an auditorium for discussions with prominent thought leaders.
  • RUST — a nightclub with live performances from DJs and an audience of people from around the world.

With thanks to Loki Eliot for the pointer.

Note: image of Sam Englebardt updated after K. Jewel pointed out that the initial image was incorrect.

 

 

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Dimmie at Caledon National Museum

National Museum of Caledon

The National Museum of Caledon is a venue for art featuring monthly exhibitions and a chance to wander and relax in the neighbouring gardens.

Curated by Star (astarynite), the museum is a grand building in a neo-classical style, well suited to the Caledon environs, sitting with its back to the water, a trellised patio to one side where patrons can relax and enjoy the view over the gardens and appreciate the grand folly topped by a slowly revolving globe of the Earth. Or, should visitors be inclined, there is a short climb to a raised garden where the mind can wander whilst playing the harp.

National Museum of Caledon: Darlingmonster Ember

To my shame, I arrived at the museum towards the end of the current exhibition – I believe each runs through the months from start to close the end – because the current display, entitled What Would Dimmie Do? featurs the photograph of fellow Second Life grid traveller, Darlingmonster Ember, who also happens to be a resident of Caledon.

Thanks for taking the time to drop by and see what I’ve been working on. So many folks in Caledon in their avatars and the places we find on the SL grid. That’s what you’ll find in this showing … So there isn’t a theme here, except perhaps the SL experience of my 10 years …

Darlingmonster Ember on What Would Dimmie Do?

National Museum of Caledon: Darlingmonster Ember

Offered for our enjoyment across both floors of the museum is a selection of pictures by Dimmie, many charting her travels, others focused self-studies, all presented here as something of a historical record. From dark, almost portending studies to a richness of colour and gaiety, this is a selection which evokes a broad range of emotional responses as well as offering both a glimpse into Dimmie’s life and travels and upon some famous places that have appeared in Second Life over the span of time.

Many of the images appear to forego the common practice of post-processing to present almost “raw” studies and views. In an era where capturing scenes from within Second Life seems to be less about using the viewer’s available tools and more about demonstrating a mastery of PhotoShop, this really is a refreshing and natural exhibition – hence again my apologies for arriving so late in the exhibit’s run.

National Museum of Caledon: Darlingmonster Ember

Should you have the time before June fades away, do make the effort and drop in to What Would Dimmie Do?; I think you’ll likely be as entranced at I was in visiting – and keep an eye on Dimmie’s Flickr photostream if you’re so minded as well.  Plus, if you enjoy her exhibition, do leave a comment in the guest book; while an offering towards the continued upkeep of the museum would also doubtless be appreciated by Star.

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