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Wise Partners invests in Charisma Entertainment as it targets the metaverse

High-profile tech figures such as Mark Zuckerberg see the metaverse as the future of the internet

Interactive storytelling firm Charisma Entertainment has received investment from a growth stage venture capital fund focused on the metaverse.

UK-based Wise Partners has taken a minority stake in Charisma, which has been behind interactive dramas for the BBC and Sky.

The deal, financial details of which were not disclosed, will see former Ingenious Ventures CEO Patrick Bradley and ex-Cubic Motion president Andy Wood join as director and chairman of the Charisma board, respectively.

The term ‘metaverse’ refers to a convergence of physical, augmented and virtual reality (VR) in a shared online space. It has gained prominence in recent weeks after it was revealed that Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg is among those who see the metaverse as the future of the internet, with the social media giant making it a key focus of the business.

Launched earlier this month, Wise Partners was founded by Wood and Bradley to explore and evaluate different opportunities across the metaverse to provide capital for growth as well as specialist support. The firm is already involved in markets including interactive storytelling and narratives, video games, alternative reality, digital humans, haptics, digital art and NFTs, 3D spatial sound, software tools and platforms, real-time applications and events.

Charisma, meanwhile, specialises in powering virtual character behaviours for entertainment experiences such as interactive movies, games, VR and digital storytelling. It uses machine learning to allow consumers to talk directly to virtual characters in stories, influencing their mood, memories and the narrative itself.

The company has developed projects with Sky, WarnerMedia and the BBC, among others, and is currently adapting John Wyndham’s sci-fi novel The Kraken Wakes as a game to be released next year. In addition to its entertainment work, Charisma produces interactive graphic novels for mobile phones, educational projects for Oxford University and multi-genre VR experiences.

Bradley said: “The entertainment industry is changing shape rapidly, with audience interactivity at the core. The metaverse is where the games, television and creative worlds come together, with this industry forecast to grow 54% in the next couple of years.

“Wise was established to accelerate the growth of companies who are at the core of this change. One of the best of those companies, Charisma, is perfectly positioned to achieve rapid growth through its unique combination of creativity and advanced machine learning technology.”

Guy Gadney, co-founder and CEO of Charisma Entertainment, added: “The metaverse needs huge quantities of interactive content, and this content needs to be dynamic and immersive, especially when it comes to characters that audiences can play with and talk to. Charisma’s unique approach to interactive storytelling, powered by AI, was designed with the ambition of the Metaverse as a natural evolution for multiplatform audiences.

“Our work with existing networks such as WarnerMedia, Sky, BBC and others has demonstrated clearly how much audiences want to engage more with the stories they love, and the pandemic has turbocharged this behavioural shift.

“With Patrick’s knowledge of the film, television and entertainment industries, we are now in a great position to take full advantage of the shift from linear to non-linear, and to playing a pivotal role in the next generation of entertainment.”

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