Gilad Talmon never expected to be at the helm of a metaverse company. The current CEO of TetaVi was working at a defense startup in 2018 when he went to meet his group of high school friends for one of their weekly board game sessions, a 20-plus year tradition. Micha Birnboim was there — as usual — and asked him to come take a look at technology his new startup was working on. It used AI with a focus on computer vision to make it quicker and easier to create immersive 3D content for the metaverse. Talmon was instantly interested. The avid gamer thought back to the community he built playing World of Warcraft and how he and his friends would sometimes use the virtual world just to hang out. Two months later, he quit his job to join the budding startup, TetaVi.
The Israeli company got its start in 2016 when Birnboim, a serial entrepreneur, and cofounder Miky Tamir realized that the world was heading toward more immersive virtual experiences. 3D human motion would be important in such a future, but the technology needed to create such content for virtual spaces was incredibly expensive and restrictive. “Content is becoming more and more immersive but it is still difficult to produce,” Talmon tells Forbes. “This is where we have the potential to shine. We developed this platform that produces high quality content easily.” The founders originally targeted the sports market, correctly thinking that it would be an early adopter of the tech, before realizing the opportunities were much larger — in the metaverse.
TetaVi raised $20 million in a Series A round led by Insight Partners, with participation from OurCrowd, Nimble Ventures and others, as originally reported in Midas Touch newsletter. TetaVi has now raised $35 million to date. The startup plans to use the capital to double its headcount and continue building out partnerships with different brands and companies. TetaVi has also recently opened an office in New York and a studio in Los Angeles as it looks to increase its presence in the U.S. and move its business management and marketing teams stateside.
What differentiates TetaVi’s approach to creating immersive 3D-content is how it’s expanding the accessibility of AI, specifically computer vision. While other companies rely on large, specially designed studios with tons of sensors and cameras to capture motion, TetaVi’s system can be shot on just four to eight cameras, with no special backgrounds. Its AI system does the rest, Talmon says, thanks to a system that has studied more than a terabyte and a half of footage of people of different ages, body types and ethnicities, allowing its tech to cover some of the complicated parts of 3D-rendering on the back-end. “TetaVi will be a real enabler for democratizing the metaverse, and making sure it’s not only reachable, but also approachable for anyone,” Talmon says. “Anyone can create within it and bring their own creativity and their own digital self.” TetaVI expects the tech will be able to work with any camera, including smartphones, within the next year, Talmon adds.
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This computer vision approach is exactly what attracted Insight to lead the latest round, Daniel Aronovitz, a vice president at Insight Partners, says. “The ability for one to create a 3D version of a person using a smartphone camera opens up a lot of opportunities in this immersive world we are heading into,” Aronowitz tells Forbes. “Their cutting edge consumer-centric business software has really positioned themselves at the forefront of the AR, VR, NFT landscape.”
Talk about this metaverse has been growing. In June, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg told his employees that the future of Facebook would be this immersive world. For Talmon, that trajectory is obvious — especially to anyone with teenagers. His 15-year-old daughter has a friend group that spans continents, with the kids gathering to hang out on either Roblox and Minecraft, a Houseparty chat running almost constantly in the background, he says. Talmon sees opportunities for this tech in movies, video games and concerts, and beyond entertainment for things like philanthropic projects, too. “When we are looking at the future, we are building this new platform meant to bring high-end immersive content to consumers worldwide,” he says. “Our model is to allow anyone to make content anywhere.”