SoftBank Ventures Korea furthers its AI vision by investing in ObEN: a company that builds virtual identities to represent consumers in the digital world

SEOUL, South Korea & PASADENA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–March 14, 2017–

Today, SoftBank Ventures Korea announced that its SB Next Media Innovation Fund has invested in ObEN, Inc. (ObEN), an artificial intelligence (AI) company. This funding continues ObEN’s recent momentum and follows the company’s $7.7 million Series A round in November 2016.

ObEN is an AI company that builds virtual identity technology for consumers. Using ObEN, consumers can quickly create a photo-real avatar using just a selfie and short voice recording. ObEN’s proprietary AI technology then brings the avatar to life, allowing it to learn about its human counterpart, from his or her mannerisms to basic daily behaviors.

“In our search for the leading companies in the VR and AR space, we were most excited by what we saw from ObEN, specifically around the unique applications of artificial intelligence they’ve introduced,” said J.P. Lee, partner and managing director of SoftBank Ventures Korea and managing director of SB Next Media Innovation Fund. “They bring best-in-class speech, computer vision and natural language processing technology as well as a masterful team dedicated to the vision of creating personal AI for every consumer. ObEN is a pioneer in the evolution of AI and we are thrilled to announce our investment in the company.”

The funding from SB Next Media Innovation Fund will drive market research and outreach, and SoftBank Ventures Korea’s global network will help ObEN connect with major players in the space domestically and overseas.

“We see this strategic investment as a major stepping stone and are excited to use SB Next Media Innovation Fund’s support to expand our presence internationally,” said Nikhil Jain, cofounder and CEO of ObEN, Inc. “ObEN is positioned to define artificial intelligence and its applications for consumers and the validation from a powerhouse like SoftBank Ventures Korea will only serve to fuel our mission. We consider ourselves fortunate to have access to their expertise, which will help accelerate our vision of enhancing the appeal of AR, VR and IoT consumer experiences across the world.”

Launched in December 2016, SB Next Media Innovation Fund is focused on investing in media content, platform and technologies that can be applied to the content business, including virtual reality and augmented reality. It was established to help companies like ObEN reach global markets and, together, SB Next Media Innovation Fund and ObEN will help bring captivating experiences to consumers worldwide.

About SoftBank Ventures Korea

Established in 2000, SoftBank Ventures Korea has formed more than 12 funds and has invested approximately 377 million USD, equivalent, across 210 startup companies (2016 2H). SBVK is a venture capital subsidiary of SOFTBANK Group, one of the largest technology and telecommunications corporations in the world, focused on mobile communications, broadband infrastructure, fixed-line telecommunications, and internet culture. SBVK is committed to investing in and supporting companies and entrepreneurs with disruptive technologies and innovative ideas to change the world.

About ObEN

ObEN, an artificial intelligence (AI) company, creates smart avatars for every consumer and celebrity, providing them with a personal AI to represent them in the digital world. ObEN’s proprietary AI technology quickly combines a person’s voice and image to create a 3D virtual self that looks like, sounds like and performs skills to match the user’s mannerisms, behavior and habits, enabling never before possible social and virtual interactions. Founded in 2014, ObEN is an HTC VIVE X portfolio company and is located in Pasadena, California at leading technology incubator Idealab. To learn more about ObEN, please visit oben.com.

ObEN is a trademark of ObEN, Inc.

Inner Circle Labs for ObEN
Brittany Votto, 415-684-9406
oben@innercirclelabs.com