Posted on Thursday, Jan 11th 2018
According to a Research and Markets report, the global Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games market was worth $26.9 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $44.6 billion by 2022 at a CAGR of 8.9%. Based on the success of its platform SpatialOS that enables creation of simulations and virtual worlds for video games and simulations, Improbable joined the Billion Dollar Unicorn Club last year.
London-based Improbable was founded in 2012 by CEO Herman Narula, CTO Rob Whitehead, and COO Peter Lipka. Herman and Bob met at Cambridge University where they studied Computer Science and both loved multiplayer games and virtual worlds. Peter worked at Goldman Sachs as an analyst developer after graduating with an MEng in Computing from Imperial College.
Improbable’s mission is not just to make unmakeable games but also to answer unanswered questions that lead to a better-functioning world. Sounds grandiose!
While traditional MMO games like World of Warcraft split up players over different servers, Improbable’s SpatialOS creates the gaming world algorithmically using procedural generation, cloud computing, and elements of blockchain technology. Its partnership with Google to put its system on the cloud enables small developers to create massive simulations and virtual worlds without much infrastructure at a lower cost, time, and manpower.
London-based, BAFTA-winning games studio Bossa Studios was one of its first clients that used it to build Worlds Adrift. Apart from gaming, it also has broader applications. It is used by economists from Oxford to run models of the U.K. housing market. It is working with telecommunications companies, governments, and other enterprise clients to explore utilizing massive, detailed simulations using real-world data to drive better decisions. Samsung has explored the possibility of running simulations for its Internet of Things devices.
Improbable does not disclose details of its revenue but has revealed that it has booked revenue in the single-digit millions of pounds since launching.
Improbable bootstrapped first before raising money. Its founders spent £20,000 to cover costs for six months while a lead software engineer used three credit cards to buy equipment. Herman borrowed $1.5 million from friends and family and built Improbable from a converted barn next to his family home in North London.
In March 2015, Improbable raised $20 million in Series A from Andreessen Horowitz at a valuation of $100 million. In July 2015, it raised another Series A round for $30 million from Horizon Ventures and Temasek Holdings. In May 2017, it raised $502 million in a Series B round led by SoftBank that valued it at an estimated $1 billion.
More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns.
This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns
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