citybiz+ Metaverse Firm Katmai Emerges from Stealth with $22 Million Series A Funding

New York-based Katmai emerged from stealth on Monday, with the promise of bringing the metaverse to office. It also announced the closure of a $22 million Series A round led by Starr Insurance Companies. Other investors in the round included tms, a Chicago-based technology, marketing and sourcing company driving transformational change for the world’s leading brands, and former NFL star Sidney Rice.

Founded in 2020 by Erik Braund, previously the founder of creative agency Braund Studios, Katmai has recreated offices with virtual 3D experiences, and advancing the concept of hybrid work. True to its vision, Katmai’s staff of 40 is sprinkled across the world – from Alaska, Braund’s home state, to the Netherlands.

Merging Real, Virtual Worlds

“Our goal isn’t to be meeting software. Our goal is to say, ‘Hey, this is a concurrent session. It’s an always-on thing, and it’s a third place to be together,’”Braund told Fast Company. Katmai’s metaverse version of the office is “designed to offer businesses a competitive edge,” Braund told VentureBeat.

Katmai says it has built a place merging the 3D world and the audio-video conference, where people can gather to have more life-like interactions. In terms of technology, Katmai’s is light on demands. It seamlessly integrates videoconferencing within custom 3D environments, and delivers all its experiences within a browser.

After running a closed beta since 2021, Katmai has recently worked with several companies, including Fortune 500 firms and startups, according to VentureBeat. Fast Company saidKatmai was narrowing its focus to “younger and smaller companies, especially because the platform eliminates huge costs from investing in a physical space.”

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tms, one of Katmai’s backers, has been an early user of its technology, with the company reportedly designing a digital twin of TMS’ Chicago headquarters.

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“As a globally distributed team, working in Katmai has enabled us to cultivate community and company culture,” Jim Eby, tms’chief creative officer, told VentureBeat in a statement. “Being together in the virtual office allows for deeper connections, real-time collaboration, spontaneity and fun that wasn’t previously achievable in our remote workflow.”

Rice, 36, played as a wide receiver for seven seasons in NFL. He was with the Seattle Seahawks when the team beat Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl in 2014. He played for the South Carolina Gamecocks in college before being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings.