How BUD Plans To Bring The Metaverse To The Masses
There is money in the metaverse. Singapore-based BUD will today announce that it has raised $36.6 million in a Series B round led by Sequoia Capital India. The fundraising comes less than six months after the full launch of BUD’s user-generated content platform, underlining the enormous appetite of investors to secure exposure to metaverse opportunities.
“The metaverse is the latest in a succession of medium shifts,” says Risa Feng, who co-founded the business with Shawn Lin; the two previously worked together at social media giant Snap. “The web started with text, moved to images, and then to video – and now we’re making the next move.”
Each time we’ve seen such jumps, Feng argues, there have been even greater opportunities for users to create their own content, exploiting the expanded possibilities of each new medium. The problem, however, is the barriers to entry posed by the need for technical skills also keep rising. More sophisticated mediums require greater technical knowledge from those who want to work with them – to the extent that creating content on the metaverse is typically the preserve of specialist software engineers at organisations such as gaming companies.
Enter BUD. “We want to democratise the medium of 3D,” Feng explains. “Using our platform, everyone can produce the kind of content they want to create, even if they lack the professional skills to do so.” There isn’t even a financial barrier to entry, since the platform is entirely free to its users.
BUD delivers on that promise with a range of easy-to-use creation tools that enable users to create and share 3D interactive experiences. The platform is built as a mobile-native app – so squarely aimed at new generations of creators – and requires no coding knowledge to get started. Instead, creators build their experiences from scratch using geometric modules and interactive props. The assets created are then available for use by other users, ensuring BUD provides a constantly growing library of props that creators can pick up and utilise in their own creations.
The only limit to that is people’s imagination. BUD’s creators are using the platform to create immersive games and virtual worlds, Feng explains. Their creations are often highly social – many users host parties and other events in the worlds they have built; virtual weddings are not unheard of.
So far so good – but what about making a commercial return? To date, BUD is yet to unveil a monetisation strategy.
Feng appears unconcerned – and the lack of revenues does not appear to have put off investors. While the company is tight-lipped for now at least on its plans for monetisation, there are several routes it could go down. Certainly, there will be opportunities to share in the wealth generated by its creators; NFTs are one particular area of interest. Advertising is another possibility. “In web 2 applications, the fact advertising got everywhere became very annoying,” says Feng. “But that’s much less of an issue in the virtual 3D world where you can be much more creative.”
BUD’s new investors certainly seem to be confident of getting a return on their money, which Feng and Lin intend to use for further product design and development, as well as building BUD’s global presence.
“BUD is establishing itself as a social destination for GenZ while uniquely enabling ownership of content in the metaverse,” argues Sequoia India Vice President Aakash Kapoor. Other new investors in the business, including ClearVue Partners, NetEase and Northern Light Venture Capital, also express excitement. BUD’s existing investors, including GGV Capital, Qiming Venture Partners and Source Code Capital, also participated in the Series B.
Certainly, BUD seems to be gaining traction with creators at a rapid rate. Some 15 million assets have already been created on the platform – and those assets have been used by creators 150 million times. Since its launch in November, BUD has made it into the top 10 rankings of social apps in almost 40 countries worldwide.
The broad appeal of the platform is the secret to its success, adds Feng. “BUD is a user-generated platform for the 3D world where everyone, not just hard-core gamers or professionals, has the chance to create and share whatever they want,” she says.