TikTok company Bytedance buys social VR team – report
TikTok company Bytedance’s VR expansion continues. Now the company is growing its social VR business.
The South China Morning Post reports that Bytedance has acquired “Poliq,” a social VR startup founded in 2019. The acquisition sum is said to be “tens of millions of yen.”
The startup stated in the past that its long-term goal is to build a virtual world that includes traditional formats as well as VR and AR. Bytedance has not officially confirmed the acquisition.
Experienced Xiaomi VR executive forms Pico’s new social VR team
Poliq most recently worked on the “social entertainment” smartphone app “Vyou Weiyou”, which allows users to create their own avatars and navigate through a virtual world – but still without VR support.
The startup put a special emphasis on the development of an avatar builder, as users were supposed to spend money on digital fashion in the app. The app was discontinued in March 2022 because it was reportedly not successful enough.
Poliq becomes part of VR company Pico, which in turn became part of Bytedance last August. At Pico, the former Poliq team is responsible for building and implementing the social VR strategy, SCMP reports.
Bytedance is said to have been particularly interested in Poliq’s U.S.-trained founder Ma Jiesi. Jiesi was involved in a 2018 collaboration with Oculus for Xiaomi’s VR division, bringing Oculus Go to the Chinese market.
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Poliq otherwise had former employees who worked for NetEase, Perfect World, 360, HTC Vive and Virtuos. According to the startup, they have an average of ten years of industry experience.
TikTok also wants to mess with Meta in the Metaverse
The acquisition of Poliq and the accompanying strengthening of its social VR division is another sign that Bytedance hopes to compete with Meta on the Metaverse as well.
Since acquiring Pico, Bytedance has also announced a partnership with Qualcomm, is launching its first consumer VR headset in the West with the Pico Neo 3 Link, is reportedly working on a competing Cambria headset, and is increasing internal investment in its VR initiative.
With the smartphone app TikTok, Bytedance is specifically taking market share and thus advertising revenue from social videos away from Meta. The short video format introduced by Bytedance is so successful that Meta (Instagram Reels) and Google (YouTube Shorts) have already copied it for their platforms.