Virtual Human Developer Next Generation Secured 5 million USD Funding Led by NetEase

Next Generation, a startup focusing on creating AI-generated virtual humans, secured a Series A+ funding worth about $5 million, led by Chinese gaming giant NetEase. Other investors of the round include The Arena Capital, Shunwei Capital, and CCV Capital. The round follows a $5 million Series A this July.

Next Generation started their virtual human business in 2018, focusing on creating AI-generated virtual humans for a variety of purposes: vtubers, virtual idols, virtual assistants, vhuman, virtual avatars, and virtual brand ambassadors. According to Next Generation CEO Chen Yan, they aim to build on the current virtual franchise ecosystem and to use virtual humans as vessels for integrating the virtual and the reality through capable partners like NetEase.

Currently, Next Generation is well-known due to its novelty projects. These include virtual avatars for popular celebrities Diliraba Dimurat and Huang Zitao, virtual fashion content creator Ling and a virtual brand ambassador for cosmetics brand Huaxizi. This September, Next Generation created the world-first ‘human observer’ named AI Merror based on a Microsoft AI chatbot project, claiming it can not only respond to dialogue input but also lead the direction of a conversation.

KPOP Idol Huang Zitao with his virtual avatar ‘Z.TAO’s Man’

Virtual content creator Ling is a fashion icon that mixes traditional Chinese culture with street fashion

NetEase has been making moves in the virtual human business at a steady pace and invested in avatar startup Genies, virtual social network IMVU and A8, the parent company behind Japan’s leading vtuber Kizuna AI.

NetEase’s senior director of strategic development Wan Fangda expressed the excitement of the investment with Next Generation. Wand said NetEase is looking forward to exploring the supply chain of virtual humans and expects to see how the technology can be implemented into new business models.  

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