Improbable, a British technology company co-founded by Herman Narula, today announced that it has raised $502m in a round of Series B funding led by SoftBank. The investment is to further develop Improbable’s virtual world and massive-scale simulation technology. All the funds from the investment will be invested in developing its SpatialOS distributed operating system. Improbable’s plans include accelerated recruitment in its London and San Francisco offices, and investments to develop a vibrant ecosystem of developers and customers. Improbable uses cloud-based distributed computing to enable the creation of virtual worlds for use in games and massive-scale simulations of the real world.
“We believe that the next major phase in computing will be the emergence of large-scale virtual worlds which enrich human experience and change how we understand the real world. At Improbable we have spent the last few years building the foundational infrastructure for this vision,” said Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable.
Alongside the investment, Improbable will explore and identify opportunities for mutually beneficial relationships with SoftBank, its partners and portfolio companies. Deep Nishar of SoftBank has joined the Improbable Board following this investment, which sees SoftBank taking a non-controlling stake in the company.
Existing Series A investors Andreessen Horowitz and Horizons Ventures are also making follow-on investments as part of this round, and will continue to offer advice and guidance to Improbable, along with Temasek, the Singapore investment company, which was also involved in the Series A funding.
Solina Chau, Founder of Horizons Ventures, said, “Having backed Improbable from the start, we continue to see huge potential in the application of its technology, both for solving real-world problems and in changing the future of the games industry. Improbable is an exciting, ambitious company that we’re honoured to be a part of.”
Improbable and SpatialOS
Improbable’s technology enables the creation of massive simulations – “virtual worlds” – at a far greater level of scale and computational complexity than previously possible, and while able to support more simultaneous connected users.
Improbable’s first product, SpatialOS, a distributed operating system for massive-scale simulations created using Improbable’s technology, integrates with major game engines and has been in live beta since March.
Improbable is also applying the same technology that powers SpatialOS to the simulation of complex real world systems. Potential applications include simulating transport infrastructure, telecommunications networks or the behaviour of fleets of autonomous vehicles.
Improbable technology in gaming applications
Because the work of maintaining game worlds and tracking activities within them is managed and distributed across the cloud using SpatialOS, multiplayer and massively multiplayer games can be created and scaled by teams of any size, without dedicated network engineering and without initial infrastructure costs.
Developers are already using SpatialOS to build a range of different types of games which take advantage of its ability to manage larger scale, higher player numbers and easy scaling in a seamless virtual world.
Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable said, ““The global games market is already huge, and we believe that far more growth is possible. The kinds of games enabled by SpatialOS – multiplayer games allowing players to form meaningful relationships with games worlds and with each other – will be category-defining, and attract new audiences.
This investment reflects the potential size and importance of the market for this next generation of games and, ultimately, how massive-scale virtual worlds could become fundamental to how society works.
SoftBank is a perfect partner for us, with many complementary investments in their portfolio. This investment will allow us to take the big, bold steps needed to fully realise our vision.”
Improbable Technology – “Real World” applications
Improbable’s technologies enable the creation of complex simulations at massive scale. There is considerable potential for expanding the capabilities of simulation technology to real-world decision making.
Improbable is exploring applications in city management, telecommunications, infrastructure and logistics, cybersecurity, transportation and traffic control and the Internet of Things, and has also seen interest in medical applications, economic modelling and many other use cases. Proofs of concept and pilot projects have included the simulation of the Internet backbone, and a British city (based on open-source map, traffic, gas and electricity, water and sewage, Internet and mobile connectivity data).
Deep Nishar, Managing Director of SoftBank said, “Improbable is building breakthrough technologies that are becoming vital and valuable platforms for the global gaming industry. Beyond gaming, this new form of simulation on a massive scale has the potential to help us make better decisions about the world we live in. Improbable’s technology will help us explore disease, improve cities, understand economies and solve complex problems on a previously unimaginable scale.
Along with Machine Learning and IoT, Improbable’s distributed computation technology represents a critical next frontier in computing.”
Improbable, founded in 2012, is a UK-based technology company which currently employs almost 200 staff at its offices in Farringdon, London and a recently-opened office in San Francisco. The company’s compute platform SpatialOS allows developers to create and run virtual worlds of unprecedented scale and complexity.
Improbable is making it possible to build massive simulations, both to transform recreational uses of virtual worlds, and to change the way we make decisions in the real world.
Improbable has released and iterated to a beta stage its open developer platform, SpatialOS. Thousands of developers have already downloaded the SDK.
Improbable announced the launch of the SpatialOS Games Innovation Program in partnership with Google Cloud in December 2016, and showed a slate of games in development as part of that program at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March 2017.
For more information, please go to www.Improbable.io.
SoftBank is a global technology player that aspires to drive the Information Revolution. SoftBank is comprised of the holding company SoftBank Group Corp. (TYO: 9984) and its global portfolio of companies, which includes advanced telecommunications, internet services, AI, smart robotics, IoT and clean energy technology providers. In September 2016, ARM Holdings plc, the world’s leading semiconductor IP company, joined the SoftBank group. To learn more, please visit www.SoftBank.jp/en