Cambridge Alumni Startup, Improbably Raises $500M
A British startup that has created software to complex and interactive virtual worlds along with complex simulations for industry and government has just closed a $502 million dollar round valuing the company at over $1 billion dollars. The round was funded entirely by Japan’s Softbank, the majority equity holder in US wireless carrier Sprint.
Herman Narula (29) and Rob Whitehead (26) founded the startup while studying computer science at the University of Cambridge. Their third co-founder, Peter Lipka (28) is a graduate of the UK’s Imperial College and worked at Goldman Sachs. The VR startup was born out of the cofounders love for multiplayer games and virtual worlds, reports theguardian.com.
The three co-founders resurrected Whitehead’s original idea for Improbable that he launched in 2012.
The company currently employs about 200 who are split between offices in London and Silicon Valley. However the three founders are very proud of their London upbringing and distance themselves from the stereotypical startup path of those in the valley, memorialized on HBO’s Silicon Valley. The founders seek to cultivate a distinctively British culture.
IN 2015 the company raised $20M dollars. Andreesen Horowitz (a16z) participated in that round that valued the firm at $100M. While the company is deeprooted in the fun and games part of VR, SpatialOS is their enterprise product that can be used by developers design and build massively detailed environments by using distributed cloud infrastructure, incorporating machine learning and other technologies. SpatialOS can be used to create virtual reality worlds for games but in the future it could be used by city planners, architects and landscapers to design full scale environments that can be implemented in the real world.
While the $500m will definitely help the company grow. Narula is also anxious for the doors that Softbank can open for the firm.
“Improbable is building breakthrough technologies that are becoming vital and valuable platforms for the global gaming industry,” Narula told TechCrunch.com “Beyond gaming, this new form of simulation on a massive scale has the potential to help us make better decisions about the world we live in.”