ByteDance expands metaverse investment with acquisition of Chinese virtual reality (VR) start-up PoliQ

June 27, 2022 0 Comments

ByteDance, owner of short video app TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin, built up its metaverse portfolio with the acquisition of Chinese virtual reality (VR) start-up PoliQ. 

Last week, ByteDance acquired PoliQ, the operator of virtual social entertainment app Vyou that allowed users to create their own avatars, for tens of millions of yuan, according to Chinese business data and trademark tracking firm Tianyancha.

PoliQ will be integrated into VR headset company Pico, which was acquired by ByteDance in August last year. PoliQ founder Ma Jiesi is now the head of the social centre department at Pico, according to Ma’s CV on Chinese social media platform Maimai.

In his early career, Ma was former director at Xiaomi’s VR unit, where he led the Chinese smartphone maker’s collaboration with headset giant Oculus in 2018.

ByteDance begun invested in the Metaverse last year. In April 2021, ByteDance invested around 100 million yuan into Mycodeview, the company behind Reworld, a Chinese competitor to metaverse incumbent Roblox.

Then in August, the company acquired virtual reality headset Pico Interactive for CNY9 billion. In January, ByteDance launched a social app called Paiduidao or “party island”in English, enabling users to interact in a virtual community through avatars.

In March, the Beijing-based tech giant inked a partnership agreement with Qualcomm to develop extended reality ecosystem, containing virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies. Pico’s latest VR headset, the Neo 3 Pro, is already powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 chipset.

Both virtual reality and augmented reality are widely regarded as underlying technology to support the application and adoption of Metaverse, and the partnership will help Pico to usher in a new group of developer who are focused on programming applications for VR and AR technologies.

ByteDance has allocated resources and staffs to the VR unit since then. ByteDance has assigned senior managers from its short video app Douyin to Pico Interactive. Song Binghua and Wu Zuomin, who are responsible of leading TV show production and entertainment content at Douyin, TikTok’s China version, has already moved to Pico, following the appointment of Ren Lifeng, who co-created Douyin and then headed ByteDance’s Xigua short video app in his early career.

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