Improbable, a U.K. startup that makes it easier for developers to build massive simulated worlds, has announced it’s opening its first base in the U.S., with a division opening in downtown San Francisco in February.
The new hub will serve as the cornerstone for a significant expansion program for the company and will be home to a swathe of engineers, executives, and operations staff.
Founded out of London in 2012, Improbable raised $20 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz back in March 2015, and later went on to unveil SpatialOS, an operating environment and back-end infrastructure that helps small companies create massive simulated worlds for VR projects, online games, and more and helps accommodate thousands of players in a single world simultaneously. Last month, Improbable announced a partnership with Google aimed at developers who create virtual worlds that run on the Google Cloud Platform. One facet of the partnership includes subsidizing access to SpatialOS to encourage innovation among game developers
The company says that it intends to create close synergies between its London and San Francisco hubs, with employees from both locations able to spend extended periods of time in the other city to create “strong cultural cohesion and critical projects across both sites,” according to a company statement.
Why San Francisco? Well, the answer may not surprise you. A statement reads:
Building excellence in distributed computing systems and attacking the world’s biggest problems requires exceptional people. Unsurprisingly, globally, there aren’t that many people with that expertise. California is rich in this talent so it makes sense to put down roots early and quickly. This expansion is not just exciting — it’s necessary if we want to grow in the way we expect to need to. Steps like our strategic partnership with Google Cloud have only increased our sense of urgency.
It’s worth noting here that Improbable’s main HQ will remain in the U.K. capital, and this partly explains why the company is keen to build close ties between its two hubs. It reckons the best talent will always “want to be close to the action,” meaning it’s being careful not to pitch the new San Francisco base as a simple satellite office. “We want our two offices to work together as a single, geographically distant but closely connected headquarters,” it said.
The company will initially operate from a new WeWork space in the Embarcadero Center, and it plans to “remain in the North Bay” region as it grows.