Rec Room's big plans for the metaverse: 'So much more than a game'

From CNET: One of the biggest apps in virtual reality just got a boost in its bid to become one of the biggest players in the next big tech trend, the metaverse.

Rec Room, a Seattle-based social gaming startup founded by people who worked on Microsoft's early HoloLens efforts, said Monday it has raised $145 million. That puts its valuation at $3.5 billion, more than the nearly $3 billion Facebook agreed to pay when it acquired VR startup Oculus in 2014. Rec Room's new funding, which was led by Coatue Management and involved existing investors Sequoia Capital, Index Ventures and Madrona Venture Group, will be used to grow the company and hire more employees.

CEO Nick Fajt, who co-founded Rec Room in 2016, said the company has seen a jump in users amid the pandemic as people logged on to play games such as paintball and laser tag and race in vehicle rallies while chatting with other players. Though the company declined to say how many people logged into its platform each month, it did say they'd jumped more than 450% in November from the same time last year.

Fajt said some of that growth had come from the company's apps being added to iPhones in 2019 and Android phones this summer. He also noted that users had created more than 12 million rooms in which to play games or chat. "It comes down to providing a really strong community," Fajt said.

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