Ariadne Backs Next-Generation Of Virtual Worlds

Ariadne Capital is backing two UK virtual world companies, signalling the evolution of digital realities into a solid and exciting investment prospect.

NearGlobal is a company building high fidelity 3D replicas of real cities which function as portals for shopping, entertainment, social networking and education, whereas RealLife is a social networking application which gives school and college leavers a virtual world in which to experiment with possible careers while linking them to recruiters.

NearGlobal is using the very latest video games technology to map and recreate the world's great cities as fully interactive online environments. Near Global's Near London is scheduled for launch pre-Christmas.

As part of the deal, NearGlobal has welcomed entrepreneur Marc Worth as an investor and non-executive Chairman. Worth and his brother Julian founded the fashion information channel which they sold to publishing group Emap for 140 million in 2005. A decade ago Julie Meyer helped Worth secure the funding needed to establish WGSN.

Meanwhile, Real Life, run by Paul Flanagan, an Executive-In-Residence at Ariadne Capital since 2004, is launching a private Beta on Facebook in the coming days with a full launch scheduled for July.

RealLife, a 3D, avatar-driven Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) is also centred on a virtual London. Users earn virtual money and are challenged to get ahead through job simulations. At launch, the career option will be trading, with brokers able to deal on the major global markets via the Gnu Trade platform. Successful traders can purchase a range of virtual goods such as villas on the Riviera, fast cars or great clothes to enhance their virtual lifestyles.

This is the fifth funding round that Ariadne Capital has advised on or introduced new investors to successfully in the last six months.

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