User-generated content startup Yahaha has raised $40 million in funding to launch a platform that makes it easier for content creators and non-technical people to create 3D animations and games.
Yahaha already has a community of over 100,000 developers and 200,000 registered users for its platform. It is actively creating studio partnerships, accelerator programs, global events, game jams, and more.
The funding will allow the team at Yahaha to hire games-industry talent, extending its footprint in the U.S. and Asia Pacific. The company has a dual headquarters in Helsinki and Shanghai.
Temasek and Alibaba led the round and included investment from 37 Interactive Entertainment. The raise will be used to further grow the Yahaha product, community, headcount and ecosystem. Since launching in early alpha in April 2022, Yahaha has seen creators join its platform on PC and macOS, with hundreds of thousands of players playing its UGC games on the mobile app.
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Yahaha was founded in October 2020 by a talented group of Unity veterans Chris Zhu (CEO), Pengfei Zhang (COO) and Hao Min (CTO). The platform aims to democratize 3D content creation, helping creatives of all skill levels to make their own games, worlds and social spaces.
“Our vision is to try to democratize the creativity so that everybody can build games,” Zhu said. “And the games that we define here are not just simple or casual games. We believe these can be 3D real-time interactive multiplayer games and should be instantly playable.”
The company had three previous funding rounds and now it is closing a big one. The company has already released a product and half of its users are developers.
Yahaha has no-code tools that make creating a game as easy as drag and drop, as well as extensive, easy-to-use, tutorials, the company said. Users can make Web2 mobile or PC games.
This new investment follows a previous Series A raise of $50 million, taking total funding secured by Yahaha to almost $100 million in two years.
Yahaha will continue to support creators by offering them more tools and new functionalities, such as AI and cloud technology. Pathways for the introduction of creator monetization modules are currently underway, with more details to be announced soon.
Yahaha has over 170 employees with offices in Helsinki, Seoul and Shanghai. Yahaha has plans to collaborate with brands to bring new IPs into its metaverse. It will announce new industry and studio partnerships. Its current partners include content makers in the 3D asset development space, such as Synty Studios, CGTrader and Dabeeo.
“We’ve seen fantastic growth in Yahaha throughout the early alpha stage, and with over 100,000 creators signing up to make content with us, we are building on a strong foundation,” said Chris Zhu, CEO at Yahaha, in a statement. “This round of funding signifies the next step we are taking with Yahaha, opening up more creator experiences monetization modules. We are also continuing to pioneer by investing in key areas of the community and by building relationships with brands that share our values, aligning ourselves with experts in the fields of game development, 3D asset creation and more.”
Zhu hopes to double or triple the team. Given that a lot of people have been laid off, Zhu believes it’s a good opportunity to hire some of those people and give them work to do.
Zhu added, “With Yahaha, we’re not just ushering in the next generation of entertainment, we’re supporting the next generation of creators and giving them the tools and the integrated virtual world platform they need to make great content. There is a litany of opportunities that await us in the virtual world, and we want to be on the cutting edge of it with Yahaha. To do this, it’s imperative we continue investing in our team and in the community that got us to where we are right now.”
Unity’s own goal is to democratize game development with its accessible game engine. Zhu also believes that non-technical people can build games. And he believes that technical people can also unock their own creativity. Yahaha’s teams try to do a lot of coding behind the scenes to take the difficulty out of creating games, animations, and user-generated content.
“We build everything like components, like playing with Legos,” Zhu said. “But you still need to have some knowledge about games. Now we have Lego parts that everybody can play with.”
The team separates the gameplay components so that people can snap things together as they create. In contrast to Roblox, you don’t have to know how to code, Zhu said. Yahaha is trying to appeal to adults and not just kids.
“Also the graphics has high fidelity, where you can make games that are for mobile and console,” Zhu said. “It’s a lot more like Unity and not Roblox. We want everybody on our platform. Indie developers can build anything they want without limitations on assets or graphics or multiplayer. We’re trying to let everybody build a 3D virtual space.”
The company enabled monetization on the platform by opening an asset marketplace where players can sell things that they create. Yahaha takes a 30% cut while the creators get 70%. The company is working on Web3 technology in addition to its Web2 tech. Zhu also hopes to move on to a metaverse platform.
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