Internet group Naver’s metaverse subsidiary will use the cash to support game studios in its ecosystem.

Naver Z, a 3D avatar and digital space design-focused subsidiary of South Korea-based internet conglomerate Naver Group, has formed a $100m metaverse fund, TechCrunch has reported. Formed in 2018, Naver Z operates online metaverse platform Zepeto, which enables users to develop and access metaverse spaces with custom avatars. The fund is set to launch in the coming months and will reportedly be used to support the plugin Naver Z recently launched in partnership with 3D content creation platform Unity that lets users create 2D and 3D content across multiple devices. The corporate will take equity stakes in game studios that use the plugin to create content on Zepeto as it gears up for what is set to be fierce competition with other metaverse-ready platforms, such as interactive gaming-focused Roblox, to attract users in the coming years. In addition to investing, the fund is also set to hand out cash rewards to creators on Zepeto based on performance indicators such as active users, plays and visits. It may be the first metaverse fund for Naver but the company is an active corporate venturer in addition to backing external venture capital funds. The company’s investment portfolio includes e-commerce marketplaces Wallapop, Bukalapak and Carousell as well as conversational intelligence technology provider SoundHound and location intelligence provider Foursquare. Naver made a commitment to a $446m fund for VC firm Korelya Capital in November 2021 reportedly amounting to approximately half its capital. The corporate and its Line subsidiary had made a $56m commitment to Korelya’s K-Fund I in 2016 and added $118m the following year. The corporate was reportedly set to provide capital for a China-based fund co-managed by internet and telecommunications group SoftBank in 2018 alongside a commitment to VC firm Sequoia Capital’s Global Growth Fund III. Zepeto raised $190m in a December 2021 series B round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 at a valuation of approximately $1bn that included entertainment agencies YG Entertainment, Hybe Corporation and JYP Entertainment. The platform’s registered user base currently stands at roughly 290 million and its monthly active users have roughly doubled to 20 million since early 2020. It also benefits from brands like Ralph Lauren and Gucci, both of which sell designer accessories in virtual form through the app. Naver Z’s fund is just the latest in a flurry of new investment vehicles targeting the metaverse. Earlier this month, cryptocurrency exchange more than doubled the size of its corporate VC fund to $500m to invest…

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Fernando Moncada Rivera

Fernando Moncada Rivera is a reporter at Global Corporate Venturing and also host of the CVC Unplugged podcast.