38. Niantic

The wand chooses the wizard

Founder: John Hanke (CEO)
Launched: 2010
Headquarters: San Francisco
Funding: $475 million
Valuation: $4 billion (PitchBook)
Key technologies:
Augmented reality, mixed reality
Industry:
Augmented reality, gaming, mobile

George Kavallines | CNBC

Niantic, the video game maker, was spun out of Alphabet (the parent of Google) in 2015. A year later it launched Pokémon GO, the mobile augmented-reality game based on Nintendo's wildly popular franchise. In the summer of 2016, millions of people spilled out into cities and neighborhoods trying to capture digital creatures overlaid on views of their actual neighborhoods, thanks to Niantic's AR technology. Pokémon GO went on to gross more than $1 billion in revenue, making it the most successful AR game ever.

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In January, Niantic raised $245 million in a Series C round led by venture capital firm IVP and is hoping to recreate that magic with Harry Potter. By year's end the company is slated to release a new game, based on the Harry Potter universe called Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. It's a co-publishing arrangement with Warner Bros. and will be an AR game like Pokémon GO, where players find and battle magical beasts and other creatures.

Niantic founder and CEO John Hanke spoke at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and said his company's vision goes beyond games to a future where AR technology through glasses (and not mobile phones) can be used for everything from buying tickets for mass transit to finding out more information about a building or other structure. With the company's most recent fundraising, its valuation is nearly $4 billion.

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