Virtual reality firm Improbable raises $500m in funding led by Japan's SoftBank

Courtney Goldsmith
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Japan's SoftBank has put a huge chunk of change in Improbable's pocket (Source: Getty)

City-based UK tech startup Improbable last night said it had scored $502m (£389m) in new investment led by Japan's SoftBank.

The five-year-old virtual simulation firm is now valued at more than $1bn, and the new funds will be used to develop Improbable's technology, which makes virtual worlds for video games.

Chief executive Herman Narula, said:

We believe that the next major phase in computing will be the emergence of large-scale virtual worlds which enrich human experience and change how we understand the real world. At Improbable we have spent the last few years building the foundational infrastructure for this vision.

Read more: Andreessen Horowitz finds an Improbable way to fund startup startup Improbable

Softbank will receive a "non-controlling" stake in the firm, and Improbable said it will now "explore and identify" new potential relationships with Softbank, its partners and portfolio companies.

Deep Nishar, managing director of SoftBank said breakthrough technologies like Improbable's are becoming "vital and valuable platforms", and his vision for the tech is far-reaching.

"Beyond gaming, this new form of simulation on a massive scale has the potential to help us make better decisions about the world we live in. Improbable’s technology will help us explore disease, improve cities, understand economies and solve complex problems on a previously unimaginable scale."

Narula believes far more growth is possible in the global games market and beyond.

SoftBank is a perfect partner for us, with many complementary investments in their portfolio. This investment will allow us to take the big, bold steps needed to fully realise our vision.

This marks SoftBank's second major British investment after it bought chip designer Arm Holdings for £24.3bn.

Read more: Andreessen Horowitz just ploughed $20m into this London startup

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