“The financing of these funds is also to prepare for the uncertainty of the industry. Who knows one day (everyone) suddenly feels that this matter is unreliable again.”
Regarding the completion of two rounds of nearly tens of millions of dollars in financing within three months, and a new round of financing to be officially announced, Chen Yan, the founder of the “virtual person” ecological company Next World Culture (hereinafter referred to as “Next World”), behaved quite calmly , I think of the last round of downturn in the VR industry.
In 2018, the next world entered the field of virtual humans. In an exclusive interview with a reporter from “21CBR”, Chen Yan recalled that the capital market did not understand the virtual human industry at the time, and financing was not easy.
In the past few years, Next Generation has launched a variety of products on the virtual human track, including creating virtual images for stars such as Di Lieba and Huang Zitao, launching ultra-realistic virtual humans IP Ling, Nanmengxia, Ask, etc., as well as for Huaxizi, Brands such as Yili develop digital IP images.
Chen Yan said that the company’s virtual person 1.0 stage product has matured, and its annual revenue has reached tens of millions, making it profitable. In the next stage, the team will create a virtual human mid-stage product, integrating the user’s virtual human identity into more online scenarios such as music platforms and games.
The virtual human track is growing rapidly. According to iiMedia Consulting’s data, the core market of China’s virtual idols will be 3.46 billion yuan in 2020, and will reach 6.22 billion yuan in 2021. The virtual idols will drive the surrounding market to reach 107.49 billion yuan.
Chen Yan believes that virtual humans will be a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and they will have the opportunity to become the leading company on the track in the next generation.
Chen Yan had more than ten years of work experience in the entertainment industry. At first, she was a music producer, and then she worked as the head of art and large-scale project activities in Guangguang for 4 years. Later, she went to an advertising company to serve brands such as Infiniti and Audi.
Starting to enter the virtual human race track in 2018, the next generation is combing the relationship between production and supply and demand in the industry. In essence, the virtual human racetrack is a technology serving the product, and the product is ultimately applied to the scene.
Many technology companies are virtual people, lacking productization capabilities, and don’t know where to use them, so they rushed to make models. As a result, there are a lot of “corpses” of virtual people on the Internet, and maybe they stopped there after two or three updates on Weibo.
All IP products in the next generation are cut from precise scenarios, reverse product requirements, and choose the best technical solutions.
Virtual humans not only need to compete with virtual humans, but IPs that are not bad compared to real humans are valuable. In the process of making virtual human IP, the next generation has its own systematic work flow-IP’s one-year operation plan, which guarantees at least one major event in a quarter; a budget including internal costs and external operating costs within a year will be Check whether the market meets the standards on a quarterly basis.
At present, there are few companies in the next world that can profit from virtual people and have positive cash flow.
Taking its super-realistic virtual person “Ling” as an example, the team has observed that there are many similar digital celebrities around the world, including Lil Miquela in the United States and Imma in Japan. They have obtained very good traffic in the local market and have many business cooperation. Realize on the ground. The domestic market lacks virtual human products that represent the national style.
Because he was previously engaged in entertainment and advertising related fields, many familiar brands contacted Chen Yan and asked him to recommend idols (idols) with cultural heritage between the ages of 16 and 30.
However, the range of options is very small. Some seniors do not have enough awareness among young people; while young national style singers are limited by experience and age in inheriting traditional culture. The next generation decided to fill the IP gap with hyper-realistic virtual people.
The content background and image design of the virtual person “Ling” are deeply integrated with traditional Chinese culture such as intangible cultural heritage projects. This IP is completely in accordance with the logic of productization. When it was first released, it cooperated with the media “Vogue Me”. In the second quarter of this year, “Ling” appeared on the national style audition variety show created by CCTV.
Ling is a benchmark case for realizing virtual human business breakthroughs, and has reached in-depth cooperation with brands such as Tmall Luxury, Naixue and other endorsements.
At present, the virtual human race track is still in its early stages. Various virtual humans appear on platforms such as Douyin, Kuaishou, and Station B. The application scenarios are not that rich.
In fact, there are no need for so many virtual people on the market. The public’s recognition of virtual humans is not high. Users only pay attention to the top IP because of the curious mentality, and passively accept the existence of virtual humans. Traffic flows to the head, and it is difficult to replicate the second IP in the segmented area.
In the future, what is the relationship between humans and virtual humans? Chen Yan believes that everyone has a lot of deeper needs for virtual people.
Before the next life, when Chen Yan communicated with everyone, she found that almost everyone has a need for virtual people-some want to leave traces of existence for the lost relatives; some are trapped by the pressure of life and career, and hope Create an ideal self in the virtual world.
What I want to do in the next world is not a few virtual human IPs, but to let virtual humans establish a connection with real humans, and have a layout in fitness, mental health, education, concerts and other fields.
The “AI MERROR” product jointly released by Next Generation and Xiaoice is a representative of the intelligent and scene-oriented virtual humans. It is called “China’s first AI human observer”, and talks to humans as an interviewer.
Products such as “AI MERROR” push the industry to the virtual human 2.0 stage, and transform the current virtual human’s To B realization logic to To C. The underlying logic of the product is to connect the virtual with the reality, so that the C-end users feel that the virtual person has a relationship with them.
At the end of this year, Next World will release a new project plan to allow users to generate their own avatars and apply them to different scenarios.
With just a few IPs, it is difficult for users to form a habit of using virtual humans, and more players must be involved. Chen Yan said that in the last round of financing, NetEase and others were selected as strategic investors, in order to educate C-end users to realize virtual identity recognition through a large number of B-side scene partners.
When users use a single virtual person to enter thousands of scenes, huge digital assets will be formed on the platform, and new rules can be established in the middle of the next generation to create a virtual ecosystem.
When the next generation of celebrity avatars were made in 2018, there were no outlets in China. Judging the market and what the company’s genes can do depends on the clear positioning of the team.
Taking the user group as an example, the next generation wants to create China’s most fashionable virtual human R&D center, covering only the younger customer group between 16-40 years old in first- and second-tier cities. They have requirements for entertainment and aesthetics, and at the same time have the power of consumption and the right to speak. They may become KOLs leading the trend of virtual people. ?
Chen Yan decided that the team should not touch things that it is not good at, such as Xiaoice’s AI technology capabilities, which other companies cannot have overnight. Only by recognizing the scope of one’s abilities can the pace of development be more stable.
The capabilities of the next generation and the technology companies that cooperate with each other are complementary. In communicating with Xiaoice executives, they explored their true demands for creating the boundaries of the future, and through cooperation, the technology was applied to the appropriate application scenarios.
The epidemic has restricted offline activities and accelerated global digital content production. Everyone needs a more dimensional space to create connections between people and products. Capital is also promoting the new concept of “meta universe”, and the industry is booming.
Chen Yan feels that the current meta-universe tuyere may pass, and that the next life must be prepared.
Virtual humans are one of the important underlying components in the meta-universe. Financing is also preparing for the uncertainty of the track. It is hoped that in addition to capital, the investor can bring strategic resources to support the enterprise to go further. For example, with the investor NetEase, the two parties will have further cooperation in business.
If the product concept can be realized, Chen Yan believes that the next world will face a market of hundreds of billions of dollars, and the current rules will be subverted. This cannot be accomplished by one company. Many companies play different roles. The next world will be One of the important players.