June 28, 2018 / 9:08 AM / 5 months ago

Novogratz's Galaxy invests $20 million in virtual reality platform

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hedge fund manager Mike Novogratz’s investment fund has invested $20 million in a blockchain-based virtual reality platform called High Fidelity, the project’s chief executive officer and co-founder Philip Rosedale announced on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO - Mike Novogratz, chief executive officer of Galaxy Investment Partners, speaks during the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit in New York, U.S., November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

High Fidelity raised $35 million in its latest funding, with Novogratz’s Galaxy EOS Ecosystem Fund investing $20 million.

Blockchain Capital, a venture capital firm focused on the blockchain space also invested in the virtual reality start-up along with existing investors such as including Breyer Capital, IDG Capital Partners and Vulcan Capital.

Rosedale said High Fidelity has raised more than $70 million so far.

Blockchain, the technology that underpins bitcoin and other digital currencies, is a digital ledger that provides a secure way of making and recording transactions.

“The High Fidelity platform is currently in beta, so it has been partly launched,” Rosedale told Reuters in an interview.

“The headsets that will really take us into the big consumer market are not available just yet. A lot of our early focus is on location-based facilities,” he added.

Rosedale is the founder of Second Life, an online virtual world launched in 2003, which has produced more than $4 billion globally in virtual transactions.

High Fidelity will use the funds raised to expand research and development, accelerate hiring and open a new office in Seattle.

“Virtual reality may be the first killer app for blockchain,” said Sam Englebardt, head of strategic partnerships at Galaxy Digital, in a statement. He joins High Fidelity’s board.

“It’s a global phenomenon that fundamentally requires a trustless consensus mechanism for currency, property and identity.”

High Fidelity will create a token called High Fidelity Coin that will be needed to use the VR platform, but Rosedale said the digital currency will be designed to be stable against the dollar.

“It is not something that people would want to buy as an investment,” Rosedale said.

Over the coming decade, High Fidelity sees VR growing into an internet-scale phenomenon, reaching 1 billion people and generating a $1 trillion economy of virtual goods and services.

“To reach this scale and to deliver safely on such a promise, VR must be decentralized, including deeply using blockchain technology,” said Rosedale.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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