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Near London

VC firm Ariadne Capital takes stake in Messiah-powered virtual world from NearGlobal.

EMARGOED 00.00 BST TUESDAY JUNE 23rd

Ariadne Capital, Britain’s leading digital technology investment and advisory firm, has taken a stake in NearGlobal.

This month Ariadne helped complete an investment round that will see NearGlobal through to the pre-Christmas launch of Near London™, its shopping, entertainment and social-networking virtual world set in an AAA video game quality facsimile of London.

“We had been following virtual worlds, but weren’t convinced they were an attractive investment opportunity,” says Julie Meyer, CEO of Ariadne Capital. “That’s changing with the emergence of Virtual Worlds 2.0, where the user experience has a purpose, such as shopping or learning a trade, and is driven by a robust business model."

“Both Near Global and Real Life have strong propositions to take to market, with experienced management teams. They understand how to build environments and narratives that hook customers in a way that benefits users, commercial partners and investors,” continues Meyer.

Founded by Meyer and 50 leading entrepreneurs, Ariadne has advised "game-changers" such as Skype (now Ebay), Espotting (now MIVA), Spinvox (voice-to-content leader), Zopa (P2P lending and borrowing), and Monitise (mobile money).

As part of the deal NearGlobal has welcomed on board entrepreneur Marc Worth as an investor and Non Executive Chairman. Worth, and his brother Julian, high profile British entrepreneurs who founded the fashion information channel WGSN.com, sold that venture to publishing group Emap for £140 million in 2005.

“Virtual worlds need to look great, work effortlessly and offer a clear proposition to business if they’re going to be taken seriously by industries like fashion and entertainment,” said Worth. “NearGlobal is the first company I’ve seen that delivers this.”

Near’s co-founder Alex Wrottesley says investor interest in Near London is a reflection of Near London’s strengths.

“Near London and the virtual cities that will follow it are very much aimed at a mass market and we offer partner businesses a clear proposition; footfall and a wide choice of simple routes to monetizing that,” explains Wrottesley.

“Plus Near London looks great. Everyone who knows the city will know exactly where they are and anyone who doesn’t will get to know it so that if they ever visit they’ll be right at home.”

Near London uses Qube Software’s Q universal client / game technology platform and RedBedlam’s server solution paired together as ‘Messiah’ – a cutting-edge all-in-one virtual world solution.

The tech allows games companies to build their own games to run within Near London and other cities in discrete channels. The first such game is already being developed to be ready for Near’s launch.

“Near is already a superb example of how much more virtual worlds can be if they’re platformed on Q,” said Qube founder Servan Keondjian, “and when Near goes live it’ll simply change the game for how virtual worlds are seen and used.”

Ends

Alex Wrottesley of NearGlobal and Servan Keondjian of Qube are available for interview through Jonathan Kent on +44 7981 803144.

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