Google Ventures leads $12m funding for Belfast VR start-up SideQuest

10 Oct 2022

Image: GV

Alphabet’s venture capital arm is bringing SideQuest into its portfolio at a time when the sector is seeing an ‘arms race’ to build metaverse tech.

Belfast-based VR start-up SideQuest has raised $12m in a fresh funding round led by Google Ventures.

Co-founded by Shane and Orla Harris in 2019, SideQuest is developing a platform for VR developers to upload and test content ahead of public release.

This gives developers space to validate their work and start building communities, while players have access to content that it not yet available on the Oculus Store.

One of SideQuest’s early investors was Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey, who backed the start-up in its $650,000 pre-seed round in 2020.

GV, the venture capital arm of Google parent company Alphabet, said that its decision to invest in SideQuest was a response to the fast growth in sales of extended reality (XR) hardware and content. It said the sector is now seeing an “arms race” with financial commitments to the metaverse of around $10bn annually.

Following the latest funding round, GV general manager M G Siegler will join SideQuest’s board.

“We feel the time is right, and the SideQuest team has potential to be a leader in this sector that finally feels primed for prime time. The company’s ultimate goal is to become a main hub and software layer for the broader XR ecosystem,” Siegler wrote on the GV website.

Speaking to the Business Post, Orla Harris said the new financing would be used in part to increase headcount, both in Ireland and further afield. “In terms of strategy, we will continue to support developers first and foremost, to help them validate ideas and promote their apps across existing and future hardware,” she added.

Last October, SideQuest raised $3m in seed funding led by London-based ProFounders, with participation from Ada Ventures, Connect Ventures, Ascension and angel investors.

“We started SideQuest in 2019 with the goal of helping developers share their content to grow an early community and get essential feedback,” Harris, who is COO of the start-up, tweeted at the time.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic