Wave — a Culver City-based software firm that puts on virtual concerts — has raised $30 million from new investors including former Yankees shortstop Alex Rodriguez, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin and tech entrepreneur Scooter Braun, to enhance its virtual concert environments and add new interactive and social features.
Wave will also use the funds to expand into the Japanese and Chinese markets.
The company formerly known as Wave XR said it has now raised $40 million since its 2016 launch.
Wave’s technology enables musicians to create lifelike avatars of themselves that can “perform” their music on a virtual stage. Wave calls these virtual concerts “Waves,” and the company says it has hosted over 50 concerts to date. Most of these virtual shows take place either on the company’s YouTube channel, but Wave’s apps let users tune in on gaming consoles, phones or even the Oculus Rift VR headset. While watching a Wave, viewers can log in to comment in a chat function and give live feedback to the avatar performers.
Wave’s creations include virtual versions of artists like Tinashe, Imogen Heap, Galantis and violinist Lindsey Sterling.
Seattle-based venture investors Maveron led the round alongside Griffin Gaming Partners. Maveron also invested in new media startup (and TheWrap competitor) Dot.LA, which was founded by former Zillow chief executive Spencer Rascoff in late 2019. According to funding tracker PitchBook Data Inc., Griffin Gaming Partners most recently invested in N3twork, an interactive mobile game development studio, in September 2019.
“It’s a privilege to be supported by such distinguished investors like Maveron and Griffin Gaming Partners, who have funded breakout consumer businesses,” Wave chief executive Adam Arrigo said in a statement. “The added support from several new strategic partners shows the entertainment industry is looking for new, interactive ways to connect with today’s digital generation.”
Other participating investors included Tokyo-based NTT DOCOMO Ventures, Superfly Ventures, Raised in Space, Avex and Convivialite Ventures. Existing investors that returned to this round include RRE Ventures and Santa Monica-based Upfront Ventures, a prolific outfit responsible for funding scooter startup Bird, and Amazon-owned camera doorbell maker Ring.
Maveron general partner David Wu, Griffin Gaming Partners managing director Phil Sanderson and RRE Ventures partner Will Porteous join Wave’s board following the close of this funding round. Sanderson was an early investor in tech heavyweights like Pandora and Discord.
“In Adam, we met a talented entrepreneur redefining the future of live performance in a digital world and passionate about uniting humanity around these shared music experiences,” Wu said in a statement. “As Wave brings massive global audiences to their groundbreaking virtual concert experiences, we believe Wave is perfectly positioned to build the defining consumer brand at the intersection of music, gaming, and social interactivity.”
Virtual concerts are becoming increasingly popular in the age of COVID-19 as the world still struggles to reopen public venues. Most notably, hip-hop star Travis Scott held a virtual concert inside Epic Games’ “Fortnite” multiplayer game that attracted over 12 million unique viewers.