Virtual human startup Beijing Next Generation Culture Media Co., Ltd. announced Tuesday that it has recently completed an A3 round of financing, featuring exclusive investment from Sequoia China.
In the past three months, Next Generation has completed two rounds exceeding $10 million in a row, with investors including NetEase, China Creation Ventures (CCV), Shunwei Capital and The Arena Capital.
Chen Yan, the founder of Next Generation, said that this round of financing will be used to continuously upgrade the company’s team, create more new virtual human IP and explore more application possibilities.
Formally entering this field in 2018, Next Generation has previously sought to lay out the virtual human IP matrix. Generally speaking, virtual human products are divided into several categories: Vtubers, virtual idols, functional virtual humans (for dialogue, companionship, etc.), Vhumans (super realistic virtual humans), virtual gaming avatars and brand-derived virtual humans.
Facing competition in the industry, Chen Yan said that two things should be completed this year: promoting the intelligence and scenario application of virtual IPs and obtaining user recognition of the digital identities.
Next Generation plans to launch an AI human talk show for its virtual human “human observer” MERROR. For virtual DJ Purple, the company also cooperated with AI company Huiye Technology, giving it the ability of intelligent interaction and expression of multi-scenario music, and AI philosopher Ask, which was trained with 200 philosophy books and 50 science fiction novels.
In March this year, Next Generation plans to launch the “User Digital Identity Generation System,” through which ordinary users will be able to create unique digital identities independently.
According to data on Chinese commercial enquiry platform Tianyancha, there are more than 288,000 enterprises related to “virtual humans” or “digital people” in the country. From 2016 to 2020, the compound growth rate of newly registered enterprises in this field was nearly 60%.
In 2021, there were 16 investments related to virtual humans, with financing amounts ranging from several hundred million yuan to tens of millions of yuan. In 2022, money has continued to pour in, and nearly 100 financing cases in the field of virtual humans totaled over 400 million yuan ($63 million).