The buzzword of 2021 was undoubtedly ‘metaverse’, with even Facebook changing the name of its parent company to Meta.
Big Tech and analysts alike expect virtual worlds to become the next frontier of technology. They are not alone: games legend Sir Ian Livingstone, knighted in the New Year, is now launching a blank-cheque company on the London Stock Exchange to raise £115 million to invest in the new technology.
Hiro Metaverse Acquisitions I has been created by Hiro Sponsor, an affiliate of Hiro Capital, the venture capital firm founded by Sir Ian with fellow entrepreneurs Luke Alvarez and Cherry Freeman.
When listed, the special purpose acquisition company will look to acquire companies focused on videogames, eSports, interactive streaming, GenZ social networks, connected fitness and wellness, and metaverse technologies headquartered in the UK, Europe or Israel.
Sir Ian is the founder of Games Workshop and former CEO of Eidos, legendary developer of the Tomb Raider franchise.
“The whole risk profile of games has changed dramatically,” he tells BusinessCloud. “There has never been a better time to invest in the games industry.
“In the old days of boxed products, when I was running Eidos, you had to build physical inventory sold at a premium price at retail, navigating the supply chain – ultimately to get to a consumer who may or may not like what you’ve made. There was nothing you can do about it – if they didn’t like it, it would come back in returns, impact on cash flow and on profitability.
“Fast forward to today and mobile: it’s free at the point of delivering a game, you can monetise a global audience – addressing three billion people that effectively play games – and you can optimise the game by data over time and give it a shelf life of literally years.
“In the old days, they couldn’t be optimised; today you’re running games as a service. So the whole dynamic has changed completely.”
Sir Ian was chairman of Sheffield-headquartered games developer Sumo Group before it was sold to Tencent for £1 billion last month.
“We are launching Hiro Metaverse Acquisitions in London because there is a tremendous video games industry here in the UK and Europe,” he said.
“This region has talented entrepreneurs and brilliant creators who produce approximately one-third of all the video games content played worldwide.”