Alibaba invested $60 million in Neal, a maker of augmented reality glasses. Chinese tech giants are looking for ways to get involved in metaverse themes. Augmented reality technology sets digital images in the real world. Customers can wear two Neal sunglasses, Air or Light, to access AR applications such as games or movies.
AR is a key technology for the metaverse. While there is no specific definition, the meta version broadly refers to the virtual worlds people work and play. AR is one way to access this. Chinese tech giants from Tencent to Alibaba are trying to engage in meta-transversal action.
According to Neal, the $60 million round will increase investment in research and development and accelerate expansion into new markets this year, including China. So far, Neal has been selling its products in several markets, including Japan, South Korea, Spain, and the US.
The Beijing headquarters startup attracts a lot of high-level investors. In September, Neal announced a $100 million funding round. Supporters include Nio Capital as well as Sequoia Capital China. Neal did not disclose the valuation after Alibaba’s investment. However, the previous round in September valued the company at $700 million.
Alibaba and Metaverse
Investors in Neal are also Kuaishou and iQiyi. Alibaba’s investment in Neal may indicate a partnership with the startup to work with other investors. For example, Neal and Nio announced AR glasses for electric cars last year. Alibaba has already announced that it intends to increase augmented reality glasses for virtual meetings this year.
Neal also said the new cash injection would be used to strengthen existing partnerships with developers and partners; To deliver a broader range of content and experiences to users. Alibaba’s investment in Neal comes as regulators in China continue to scrutinize the business practices of the country’s tech giants. Internet firms were more cautious about investing in other companies. At the same time, Tencent acquired stakes in JD.com and Sea.