London-based metaverse startup Improbable has held talks with potential buyers to sell its defence business, Sifted has learnt.
The company confirmed that discussions to sell its Skyral battlefield simulation technology have taken place, and said in an official statement that Improbable has “made no mystery of the fact” that it would look for “the best path moving forward for Defence, as we focus on the metaverse”.
The discussions of a sale of the business unit follow a decision in December 2022 to lay off some 95 people from its defence sector team, which the company said was taken to accelerate the company’s path to profitability.
At the time, Improbable said the defence branch was the only part of the company yet to achieve profitability, but today the company tells Sifted that the business unit is “generating more and more value for its users, project after project, and has a lot of potential”.
A potential buyer
Improbable’s defence platform Skyral is based on the same tech as its metaverse technology, M2 — which powers complex environmental simulations — but with “many additional components” focused on defence and its own tech stack, a spokesperson told Sifted.
In 2020 Skyral won Improbable a contract with the British Army's Collective Training Transformation Programme (CTTP), an initiative to develop a digital training system for the military.
Improbable’s work with the CTTP functions as part of an “industrial team” led by US defence multinational Raytheon. One former member of the defence team tells Sifted that Raytheon would be the natural buyer of Skyral, but Improbable wouldn't comment on who a potential acquirer might be.
Sifted has reached out to Raytheon for comment.
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A sale of the company’s defence division would mark the latest lurch in direction for Improbable. In 2022 it sold its two video game development studios after struggling to produce a hit title for its online multiplayer platform, as it focused its energies on metaverse services.
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A sale of Skyral would essentially be the final act of putting all of Improbable’s eggs in the metaverse basket — a bold move for a technology that’s yet to find mass public demand.