Mozilla has acquired Vancouver-based Active Replica, a startup developing a “web-based metaverse.” According to the company’s Senior Vice President Imo Udom, Active Replica will provide support for Mozilla’s ongoing work with Hubs, its VR chatroom service, and open source project. He sees the Active Replica team working on personalized subscription tiers, improving the onboarding experience, and introducing new interaction capabilities in Hubs.
In a blog post, Imo Udom wrote that “Together, we see this as a key opportunity to bring even more innovation and creativity to Hubs than we could alone. We will benefit from their unique experience and ability to create amazing experiences that help organizations use virtual spaces to drive impact. They will benefit from our scale, our talent, and our ability to help bring their innovations to the market faster.”
Active Replica was founded by Jacob Ervin and Valerian Denis in 2020. Jacob Ervin is a software engineer and has held roles at AR/VR startups like Metaio, Occipital, and Liminal. Valerian Denis has a history in project management working in VR firms like BackLight. The idea for Active Replica was to build a platform for virtual events and meetings on top of Mozilla’s Hubs project. Active Replica sold virtual event packages that included venue design, event planning, live entertainment, and tech support.
Before the acquisition, the startup had not announced outside funding publicly. Within the past several weeks, Active Replica founders have taken on new roles at Mozilla with Jacob Ervin taking on the role of senior engineering manager and Valerian Denis as product lead.
In a statement, both founders said that “Mozilla has long advocated for a healthier internet and has been an inspiration to us in its dedication and contributions to the open web. By joining forces with the Mozilla Hubs team, we’re able to further expand on our mission and inspire a new generation of creators, connectors, and builders. Active Replica will continue to work with our existing customers, partners, and community.”
Hubs was launched by Mozilla in 2018. It provides the dev tools and infrastructure necessary to allow users to visit a portal through any browser and collaborate with others in a VR environment. Adhering to web standards, Hubs supports all the usual headsets and goggles (e.g. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) while remaining open to those without specialized VR hardware on desktops and smartphones.
Mozilla’s Hubs recently expanded by launching a $20 per month service with new account management tools, privacy, and security features. The company plans to roll out additional tiers and reintroduce a free version in the future. It will also introduce custom spaces, avatars, and identity options and integrations with existing collaboration tools.