Tokyo-headquartered “virtual live music event platform” VARK has announced an “approximately one billion yen” ($7.16 million at the present exchange rate) first close of its Series C.
The six-year-old virtual-concert company, which says it likewise develops “metaverse templates” as well as “video creation support tools for 3D avatars,” just recently unveiled the multimillion-dollar raise. Founded and led by former Capcom game designer Takuya Kato, VARK has according to its Japanese-language website organized a number of shows featuring animated “artists” such as Shirakami Fubuki and Ookami Mio.
VARK presented some of these shows as part of weeks-long series, per the business’s website, including one virtual festival called Cinderella Switch. Standard passes to the digital happening – which saw certain acts perform and then “sit” next to viewers’ avatars in the audience while others took the stage – cost a cool ¥4,480 (currently $32.04) apiece for those interested in watching in virtual reality (on Meta’s Oculus Quest/Oculus Quest 2 or PlayStation VR).
(Partnered with local rental companies, VARK enables its customers to use VR headsets at a discount for the duration of multiday events. Though it’s unclear for many reasons how this business model would fare in markets outside Japan, one company offered a nine-day Oculus Quest 2 rental for ¥5,480/$39.19 during Cinderella Switch.)
Meanwhile, an expanded VR “pass with benefits” including a post-event discussion set attendees back ¥8,470 ($60.57). Organizers priced standard non-VR tickets at ¥3,500 ($25.03) a pop, compared to ¥6,500 ($46.45) each for expanded non-VR tickets.
Back to the approximately $7.2 million raise, VARK secured the capital specifically via “a third-party allotment of new shares” to 27-year-old SBI Investment and NetEase Games.
Prior backers JAFCO, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, and singer-songwriter Anri (real name Eiko Kawashima) also participated in the round, per VARK, which intends to use the funding “not only to enhance existing products but also to take on the challenge of developing new businesses.”
Among the latter are VARK Shorts (“a short video creation tool for 3D avatars”), which is said to have attracted north of 10,000 users since rolling out earlier in May. Additionally, VARK communicated that its hosted live events have “more than doubled” in quantity “over the past year.”
Nevertheless, CEO Takuya Kato emphasized the belief that it’ll take far more than $7.2 million to execute his ambitious global-buildout plans for VARK.
“In Japan, it is often said that raising one billion yen is seed raising, and we believe that is exactly the case in the metaverse field,” relayed Kato. “We need at least ten times this amount of funding and more people to help us spread our culture around the world. We need partners outside of Japan as we continue our international expansion next year and the year after that.”
Last September, months after partnering with SM Entertainment, AmazeVR revealed that it had raised another $17 million. More recently, Tencent Music added its name to a growing list of music companies that are pushing tracks and concerts from virtual “artists.”