Digestible news about the latest developments across the fields of NFT, blockchain and metaverse in China, delivered to you every Thursday.
This week: Horizon Ventures led Series A funding for media tech startup Wonder Dynamics, Tencent Music to launch virtual music space TMELAND, Boeing to build its next airplane in the metaverse, and more.
Li Ka-shing’s Horizon Ventures Leads Series A Funding for Media Tech Startup Wonder Dynamics
Wonder Dynampics has raised a $10 million A round ahead of a planned product launch in 2022. The proceeds will be used to expand Wonder Dynamics’ machine learning and computer graphics teams to accelerate the development of its AI-powered content creation platform “Wonder AI Suite.”
- Founded in 2016 by Ready Player One actor Tye Sheridan and visual effects specialist Nikola Todorovic, Wonder Dynamics aims to develop AI-powered film production tools for indie filmmakers and content creators. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg and Antonio Torralba, Professor and Head of AI and Decision Making at MIT, are among the board of advisers.
- Wonder AI Suite will debut next year at South by Southwest (SXSW), one of the largest conferences of film, music and media technology that takes place in Austin, Texas in mid-March every year.
- Sheridan says that as the platform develops, its application can go beyond film and TV, and into “video games, social media, and even the Metaverse.”
- Epic Games and Samsung Next also invested in Wonder Dynamics.
- Hong Kong-based Horizon Ventures Limited manages the private investment of business magnate and philanthropist Li Ka-shing in the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector. Its investment portfolio includes Dollar Shave Club, Spotify, Facebook and Impossible Foods. (Cailianshe, TechCrunch)
Tencent Music to Launch Virtual Music Space TMELAND
Tencent Music (TME), the parent company of China’s largest music streaming platform, QQ Music, said on Friday that it will launch China’s first virtual music carnival, TMELAND.
- TMELAND is a virtual space where users can create avatars and interact with one another in virtual concerts and livestream sessions.
- Starting from December 31, people can access TMELAND through Tencent Music’s suite of music streaming platforms, QQ Music, KuGou Music, KuWo Music, as well as through WeSing, a karaoke social app. Users are also invited to participate in a virtual concert that will be held on New Year’s Eve.
- Tencent Music says it will continue to develop its virtual ecosystem by building production tools for music content creators and making its foray into virtual real estate. (Blockbeats, Jiemian News)
JD.com Launches Own NFT Platform
The Chinese retail giant has launched “Lixing,” a blockchain-based platform to sell NFTs, or “digital collectibles,” as they are officially known in China.
- Lixing is developed by JD Digits Blockchain, the company’s own consortium blockchain, and can be accessed as a mini program in JD.com‘s main shopping app.
- The platform’s inaugural digital collectibles are digital renderings of the company’s mascot – a white cartoon dog named JOY. The digital assets can be purchased at 9.9 yuan ($1.55) apiece.
- A total of 10,000 pieces of five different collectibles were released, and each variation is limited to 2,000 copies. Buyers are not allowed to resell or trade the collectibles.
- JD.com is the latest Chinese firm to make its foray into the NFT space. Earlier this year, Alibaba and Tecent launched their own NFT platforms despite sweeping government crackdowns on crypto. (Yahoo Finance)
Boeing to Build Its Next Airplane in the Metaverse
Boeing aims to unify its design, production and airline services operations under a single digital ecosystem in as little as two years, but critics say the company’s repeated pledges on digital revolution have led to mixed results.
- The airplane manufacturer is entering 2022 fighting to reassert its engineering dominance after the 737 Max crisis and to prevent future manufacturing problems like structural flaws.
- According to Boeing’s chief engineer Greg Hyslop, the company’s main objective is to strengthen engineering.
- Boeing’s objective for its next aircraft is to build and link virtual three-dimensional “digital twin” replicas of the jet and the production system able to run simulations.
- The digital mockups are backed by a “digital thread” that stitches together every piece of information about the aircraft from its infancy extending deep into the supply chain.
- According to Hyslop, more than 70% of quality issues at Boeing trace back to some kind of design issue. Boeing believes such tools will be central to bringing a new aircraft from inception to market in as little as four or five years.
- Critics say Boeing has prioritized shareholder returns at the expense of R&D – Boeing itself has realized that its ambitions for digital transformation must come with organizational and cultural changes in the company. (Reuters)
Marc Andreessen Blocks Jack Dorsey on Twitter
Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) cofounder Marc Andreessen has blocked former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Twitter, after the latter went on an unfollowing frenzy of VCs, claiming that the industry had hindered the vision of a truly decentralized internet.
- Dorsey, a self-proclaimed bitcoin maximalist (a bitcoin maximalist is someone who is skeptical of any rival to the original cryptocurrency and any non-monetary application of blockchain technology), criticized big investors like Andreessen Horowitz for pouring money into Web 3 and non-bitcoin crypto projects, gaining outsized control in the space in a way that goes against the decentralized ethos of Bitcoin.
- Web 3 investors and supporters alike pushed back against Dorsey’s claim by pointing out that a variety of approaches are needed to make good on the internet’s liberating promise, that tokens can align participants’ interests in a network, that Web 3 developer’s reliance on VCs is a perverse consequence of outdated securities laws, and that Bitcoin’s utility is limited.
- Andreessen Horowitz is one of the most influential venture capital firms that has generated significant returns by piling early investment in companies like Coinbase, Oculus, Slack, Roblox and Airbnb.
Weird Christmas Facts…
As someone who didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas, I don’t have any strong feelings about the holiday or its traditions. That said, I do have a lot of friends who take the holiday very seriously. If you’re one of them, and if you’re reading this newsletter, then this is for you. Here are some weird Christmas facts that you don’t know you need.
- Sweden celebrates Christmas with a giant, straw Yule Goat. In Norse mythology, the two goats pulled Thor’s flying chariot the same way reindeer do for Santa’s sleigh. There is also a festive tale about an invisible Yule goat that checks in on holiday prep before the big day.
- Artificial Christmas trees were first displayed in Germany around 1865, and they were made from goose feathers that were dyed green.
- In Ukraine, spiders are considered symbols of good luck during Christmas. Ukrainian families often add spider web ornaments to their trees as a nod to a lovely seasonal story about the critters once using their silky strings to decorate the tree of a poor widow and her children.
SEE ALSO: JD.com Launches NFT Marketplace Lingxi
That’s it for this week’s newsletter – thanks for reading! As always, I welcome any feedback on how to make this newsletter better. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy holidays, and see you again next week!