The herd of augmented reality cloud startups that emerged in 2018 have been hunted to near extinction, with Google-backed Ubiquity6 the latest to move from an independent entity to a wholly-owned asset.
On Monday, the company revealed that it has been acquired by Discord, the seemingly ubiquitous chat platform for gamers.
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"Our mission at Ubiquity6 has always been to unlock new ways for people to connect through shared experiences. Joining Discord today allows us to accelerate that mission — Ubiquity6's team, Backyard product and multiplayer technology will be integrated into Discord," said Anjney Midha, CEO and co-founder of Ubiquity6 in a blog post.
"While we're excited to reveal more about what we're building together at Discord in the future, today is a chance for us to celebrate all the incredible people who've helped us get here."
In 2018, Ubiquity6 raised $37.5 million over two funding rounds to build its AR cloud platform. In 2019, the startup launched Display.land, a 3D scanning and sharing platform, followed in 2020 by Display.land Studio, a web-based tool for turning Display.land content into AR/VR experiences. More recently, the team worked on Backyard, a video chat/party game hybrid app that was discontinued on Saturday.
Ubquity6 wasn't the only AR cloud startup funded by Google to arrive In 2018. In March 2018, the company's venture capital arm led a $14.5 million funding round for Blue Vision, which was subsequently acquired by Lyft later the same year.
Another AR cloud startup, 6D.ai, emerged from stealth in 2018. In 2020, Pokémon GO maker Niantic acquired 6D.ai, which has since contributed to Niantic's own Lightship AR cloud platform (which was unveiled as the Niantic Real World Platform in...you guessed it...2018).
One other AR cloud startup that entered the scene in 2018, YouAR, still exists as an independent, privately-held company.
For now, the dream of the AR cloud lives on in Niantic's platform along with the features for shared experiences, persistent content, and real-world occlusion offered by Apple and Google via ARKit and ARCore, respectively.
Meanwhile, Facebook, Snap (which recently acquired 3D mapping startup Pixel8.Earth), and Epic Games also have their designs on developing their own flavors of the AR cloud, also referred to as the Metaverse.
In other words, the dream of the AR cloud has proven to be too big for startups (for now). At this point in the game, it's time for the tech giants to do the heavy lifting.