London-based startup Anything World has raised $7.5m to grow its team as it launches its AI-powered software that lets customers create 3D animations with zero coding skills.
The investment came from Alumni Ventures, Acrew Capital, Warner Music Group, NGC Ventures, Supernode Global, GameTech Ventures and GFR Fund.
The company’s technology essentially lets users take a pre-existing static 3D model and bring it to life. So, if you’re building a 3D forest in a virtual world, and you’ve got some 3D models of what you want the animals to look like, Anything World’s machine learning-powered tech will put a virtual skeleton in that animal, allowing it to move in a lifelike way.
The round comes amid waning interest in metaverse investments this year, according to data from Dealroom. Investment into startups tagged under "metaverse" on its platform dropped from a high of $2.8bn in Q2 to $446m in Q3, as low user interest affects previously hyped platforms and Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta lays off 11k employees.
Anything World cofounder Sebastian Hofer says that, while many investors have been seduced by the metaverse hype in the last year, his company is building a tool that’s also useful to clients who have no interest in jumping on the Zuckerberg bandwagon.
“When the metaverse hype was at its height and crypto was really strong everybody was pushing us to become Web3, release your token and tokenise Anything World, yada yada, yada,” he says. “We deliberately didn’t want to do that.”
Rather than putting all its eggs in the metaverse basket, Anything World also boasts big clients like Ubisoft that develop video games and virtual experiences not designed for Web3.
Cofounder Gordon Midwood says that, while companies like Ubisoft have the skills to animate 3D models themselves, using Anything World’s technology can dramatically bring down costs for things like prototyping.
“They can quickly build a living 3D world for a new game and then once they've done rapid prototyping, they'll start the build of the actual game,” he explains. “Our customers now say they can save up to 40% to 50% of the time and production of a 3D app.”
As well as clients like gaming studios, Anything World is also working with companies like Warner Music which want to build virtual experiences and applications for users, and Hofer believes that the demand for these kinds of virtual worlds will remain strong, metaverse or not.
“Even if lots of people lost money with their crypto ideas or whatever monkey JPEG they bought, I think we stand aside from this because we just make picks and shovels for creator tools,” he argues. “Interactive gaming experience never dies.”
Anything World’s diverse client base across Web3 and Web2 will set it in good stead to weather a collapse in metaverse interest. Some of its investors seem to take a different view, with Ron Levin, partner at Alumni Ventures, emphasising that the company is creating “the most cutting-edge machine learning platform to empower developers of the metaverse”.
Whether the whole thing turns out to just be hype or not, the appetite for lower-cost animation tools like Anything World’s is unlikely to go anywhere.