Investors are justling to find the next killer app for the metaverse. BUD, an app that allows users to create their customizable 3D experiences and interact with others, said today it has landed $15 million funding in a Series A+ round.
Featuring cuddly characters that are reminiscent of Animal Crossing, BUD only rolled out in November. Within weeks it shot to the top 10 social apps on Android in several countries including the U.S., according to analytics firm App Annie, though its ranking has sunk to the 100s since. Worldwide, the app has maintained a three-digit month-on-month growth since its launch, the company said.
The slowing momentum in the U.S. didn’t stop some of China’s most active investors from betting on the nascent app. Qiming Ventures Partners led the round, with Source Code Capital, GGV Capital and Sky9 Capital also participating in the “oversubscribed” Series A-plus raise. It didn’t disclose how much it raised from its Series A round. The fresh proceeds will be used for product R&D and user growth in the international market, BUD said.
Former Snap engineers Shawn Lin and Risa Feng co-founded BUD in 2019 and have grown the firm into a team of 100 people strong. Their goal is to reach 200 employees by the end of this year and set up a global headquarters in Singapore, which is emerging as a crypto hub.
One of BUD’s selling points is enabling people with no technical background to easily create customized 3D worlds in a drag-and-drop fashion. This isn’t unlike Zepeto, a popular creator-focused metaverse app under South Korean internet conglomerate Naver. Next door in China, a new 3D-avatar social platform called Zheli (“Jelly”) recently topped the free social app category in the Chinese App Store.
While apps like BUD, Roblox and Zepeto are crafting metaverse experiences for end-users, there is a raft of entrepreneurs building the underlying infrastructure that will make the metaverse more viable, rather than merely a buzzword. Some are making decentralized payments systems and others are developing creator tools. In the latter category is Tachi Graphics, which runs a collaboration platform for 3D graphics developers and recently closed a chunky $50 million Series A funding round.
Updated with more performance data from BUD.