Although Niantic is already an augmented reality startup unicorn thanks to the success of Pokémon GO, the company has reportedly captured yet another round of funding.
Citing sources close to the matter, the Wall Street Journal reports that the AR gaming and software developer has closed a $200 million round of funding, led by venture capital firm IVP, with Samsung Electronics and aXiomatic Gaming participating as strategic investors. The funding would raise its valuation to $3.9 billion.
According to the report, investors bullish on Niantic's continued success with Pokémon GO and forthcoming location-based AR games, such as Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which is scheduled to arrive in 2019.
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The financial news site also mentions Niantic's plans to develop games for other app publishers under a revenue-sharing model. Such a move, along with Samsung's reported participation, would seem to support previous reports that Niantic was seeking a $40 million investment from the tech giant in exchange for developing exclusive mobile games for Samsung's Galaxy devices. The same reports suggest that the Harry Potter location-based AR game would be among those Galaxy-exclusive titles, with the Galaxy Note's S-Pen stylus serving as a magic wand.
What isn't mentioned explicitly in the funding report is the Niantic Real World Platform, the AR cloud platform that will enable Niantic and other app developers to integrate multiplayer experiences, persistent content, and real-world occlusion into mobile AR games and apps. Although Niantic Real World is still under development, the company has already built Ingress Prime on the platform.
So far, the company has not disclosed how it will make the Real World Platform available to other developers. However, Epic Games provides its Unreal Engine to game developers for free in exchange for a cut of game revenues. Therefore, in light of the Wall Street Journal report, it is possible that Niantic could seek a similar arrangement.
The company, which previously raised $200 million in funding last year, stands as one of two AR unicorns (among tech insiders, companies earn unicorn status when their valuation exceeds $1 billion, regardless of actual revenue) alongside Magic Leap, whose valuation exceeded $6 billion after a $461 million Series D round in March, and a strategic investment by AT&T of an undisclosed dollar value in July.
Between its existing location-based games, its AR cloud platform, and its potential to capitalize on the forthcoming smartglasses era of AR, Niantic certainly has plenty of revenue-generating products and services upon which it can continue to raise its valuation, as well as its position as a leader in mobile AR.
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