Tech giant Google has reportedly acquired Alter, an artificial intelligence (AI) avatar start-up for about $100 million in an effort to boost its own content offerings and better compete against the reigning short-form video platform, TikTok.
While the takeover was completed about two months ago, both the companies chose not to officially announce it, reported TechCrunch on Thursday citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter. However, last week, Google confirmed the purchase but declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal.
Recently, Jonathan Slimak, Chief Co-Founder and Operating Officer at Alter, too confirmed the development by changing his LinkedIn profile. He took to LinkedIn to share that he was starting a new position at Google by adding the comment, “building Avatars at Google,” to his profile without acknowledging the acquisition.
For the unversed, Alter, which was formerly known as Facemoji, was a New York City-based company founded in 2017. It offered plug-and-play technology to help games and app developers add avatars to their games and apps.
Facemoji later went on to rebrand itself as Alter after it received $3 million in seed funding from investors including Play Ventures, Roosh Ventures, and Twitter.
“Alter is an open source, cross-platform [software development kit (SDK)] consisting of a real-time 3D avatar system and motion capture built from scratch for web3 interoperability and the open metaverse. With Alter, developers can easily pipe avatars into their app, game or website,” reads the company’s LinkedIn page.
At the time of acquisition, Alter was working on using AI to generate avatars for creators, social media users, and brands to help them express their virtual identities.
Google’s short-form video format, YouTube Shorts is already a success for the company with the platform being watched by over 1.5 billion logged-in users every month, the search giant announced this past June.
By acquiring Alter, Google may be preparing YouTube Shorts for avatars, which are predicted to be a big part of the future.