Niantic (company)

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Niantic, Inc.
Formerly called
Niantic Labs (2010–2015)
Privately held company
Industry Mobile applications, mobile games, alternate reality games
Founded 2010; 7 years ago (2010)
Founder John Hanke
Headquarters San Francisco, California, U.S.
Key people
  • John Hanke (CEO)
  • Mike Quigley (CMO)
  • Dennis Hwang (art director)
Products Ingress, Pokémon Go
Website www.nianticlabs.com

Niantic, Inc. is an American software development company based in San Francisco, which is best known for developing the augmented reality mobile games Ingress and Pokémon Go. The company was formed as Niantic Labs in 2010 by Keyhole, Inc. founder John Hanke as an internal startup within Google. The company later became an independent entity in October 2015.

History[edit]

Founding[edit]

John Hanke, the founder of Niantic

The company was formed in 2010 by Keyhole, Inc. founder John Hanke as Niantic Labs, an internal startup within Google.[1] The company took its name from the whaling vessel Niantic, which came to San Francisco during the California Gold Rush in the 1800s.[1] The ship itself was named after the Niantic people, a tribe native to the New England area, where the ship (like many whaling vessels) originated. In fact, the officers of the crew who famously brought the ship to San Francisco were all of the Cleaveland whaling family of Nantucket. The Niantic people referred to themselves as the Nehantucket.

Field Trip[edit]

Niantic's first product, published in 2012, was Field Trip,[2] a location-based mobile app which acted as "your guide to the cool, hidden, and unique things in the world around you."[3]

Ingress[edit]

Niantic's first augmented reality game Ingress was initially made available on Android by invitation only in November 2012 then released publicly in October 2013. An iOS version was released in July 2014.

Initially, Niantic had taken an alternative approach to monetization, veering away from more traditional mobile application development standards such as ad placements and in-app purchases. However, following the split with Google in 2015, in-app purchasing was implemented for Ingress. Founder and CEO John Hanke has noted that Ingress is a sort of proof of concept, adding that a next step could involve packaging application programming interfaces (APIs) from the Ingress application in order to entice developers.[4] Existing partners, marketed through the narrative of Ingress rather than direct marketing techniques, include Hint Water, Vodafone, Motorola, AXA, SoftBank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Lawson (store), and Ito En.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Endgame: Proving Ground[edit]

Niantic's second announced (but currently unreleased) mobile game, Endgame, is a transmedia storytelling project consisting of an alternate reality game, Endgame: Ancient Truth, novels by James Frey starting with Endgame: The Calling, and the mobile app, Endgame: Proving Ground.[12][13][14][15]

Spinoff from Google and investments[edit]

The company spun out of Google in October 2015,[16][17][18][19] soon after Google's announcement of its restructuring as Alphabet Inc.[20][21] During the spinout, Niantic announced that Google, Nintendo, and The Pokémon Company would invest up to $30 million[22] in it to support the growth of the company and its products.[23] In February 2016, Niantic announced that it secured an additional $5 million[24] in Series A funding including investment[25] from venture capital firms Alsop Louie Partners and You & Mr. Jones Brandtech Ventures, as well as angel investors Lucas Nealan, Cyan Banister, and Scott Banister.[26] While adding more support for the growth of the company, this investment enabled Niantic to bring in strategic industry pioneers including the addition of Gilman Louie to its board.[27]

Pokémon Go[edit]

In September 2015, it was announced that Niantic was developing Pokémon Go in partnership with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company for iOS and Android devices.[28] The game was initially released in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States in July 2016 (and released to much of the rest of the world throughout the remainder of 2016), where it became an overnight global phenomenon,[29] significantly increasing the use and visibility of augmented reality technology.[30] In addition to topping app store charts in most regions, Apple Inc. announced that Pokémon Go had become the most downloaded app in a first week ever, which was topped by Super Mario Run later that year.[31][32] Reports indicated that users were spending more time on Pokémon Go than on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Tinder, and Instagram.[33][34] In one month, Pokémon Go was downloaded more than 100 million times, with daily revenues exceeding $10 million.[35] Exactly two months after its launch, at Apple's September keynote, John Hanke announced that Pokémon Go exceeded 500 million downloads worldwide and that players around the world had walked over 4.6 billion kilometers.[36] By December, it was announced that the kilometer distance achieved in September had nearly doubled to over 8.7 billion kilometers, meaning that players had collectively walked further than the distance to Pluto.[37] By the end of February 2017, Pokémon Go had surpassed over 650 million downloads.[38] During Pokémon Go's Adventure Week in-game promo in May 2017, Niantic announced that players had collectively walked over 15.8 billion kilometers, roughly the distance from Earth past the edge of the solar system.[39] On June 8, 2017, it was revealed that Pokémon Go had been downloaded over 750 million times globally.[40]

Like Ingress, Pokémon Go has a similar approach to monetization. The game has two main revenue streams, in-app purchases and regional partnerships. To date, Pokémon Go has established several partnerships around the globe among which include Sprint[41] and Starbucks[42] in the United States, Reliance Jio[43] in India, and Unibail-Rodamco[44] in Europe.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite[edit]

In November 2017, it was announced that Niantic was developing Harry Potter: Wizards Unite in partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and WB Games San Francisco.[45] The game, inspired by J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World and Harry Potter, is said to allow players to "explore real-world neighbourhoods and cities to discover mysterious artifacts, learn to cast spells, and encounter legendary beasts and iconic characters along the way".[46] It was announced that additional details will be revealed in 2018.[47]

Acquisitions[edit]

In November 2017, it was announced that Niantic acquired Evertoon, an app which allows users to make short, personalized films.[48] According to the company’s announcement, the acquisition is meant to help build social systems. At the time of the acquisition, Evertoon was only 18 months old and had only 5 employees.[49]

In November 2017, Niantic was reported to have raised $200 million in Series B funding from multiple investors, led by Spark Capital.[50]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Markowitz, Eric (December 20, 2012). "Exclusive: Inside the Mind of Google's Greatest Idea Man, John Hanke". Inc.com. Retrieved June 19, 2015. 
  2. ^ http://www.fieldtripper.com/index.html
  3. ^ "Field Trip on the App Store". iTunes. 
  4. ^ Newton, Casey (December 13, 2013). "The everywhere arcade: How Google is turning location into a game platform". The Verge. 
  5. ^ Holly, Russell (February 25, 2013). "Google makes Ingress codes available through HINT water partnership". GEEK. 
  6. ^ Hanke, John (August 19, 2013). "Vodofone Germany Announcement". John Hanke Google+ Page. Archived from the original on March 27, 2016. 
  7. ^ Niantic Labs, Inc. (August 1, 2013). "Ultra Strike Weapon Revealed - INGRESS REPORT - EP19". Ingress Youtube Page. 
  8. ^ AXA Financial, Inc. (December 16, 2014). "AXA and Google's Niantic Labs Partner to Integrate 20,000 Global Retail Agencies into Ingress' Interactive'Real World' Mobile Gameplay Experience". AXA Press Release. 
  9. ^ Softbank Group, Corp. (July 27, 2015). "ソフトバンクショップがIngressに登場!". Softbank Press Release. 
  10. ^ The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. (June 20, 2015). "BTMU announces a partnership with "Ingress", using its vast network of branches and ATMs as portals in Japan!". MUFG Press Release. 
  11. ^ Ito En, Ltd. (July 31, 2015). "スマートフォン用モバイルゲームアプリ「Ingress」(※)とコラボレーション". ITO EN Press Release. 
  12. ^ Frank, Blair Hanley. "Google's Niantic Labs merges another virtual world with reality in upcoming game". Geekwire.com. Geek Wire. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  13. ^ Rosenblatt, Seth Google's Niantic follows Ingress with Endgame Cnet retrieved September 9, 2014
  14. ^ Takahashi, Dean (December 17, 2014). "Google's Niantic Labs embarks on a giant interactive transmedia project with controversial author James Frey". Venture Beat. 
  15. ^ Robertson, Adi (July 28, 2014). "Google is helping James Frey build a multimedia sci-fi juggernaut". The Verge. 
  16. ^ "Employment Opportunities | Niantic". www.nianticlabs.com. Retrieved 2016-07-17. 
  17. ^ Upbin, Bruce. "The Niantic Project: What Is Google Up To?". Forbes. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  18. ^ Groden, Claire (August 13, 2015). "Google's internal start-up Niantic Labs spins off". Fortune. 
  19. ^ Olanoff, Drew (August 12, 2015). "Niantic Labs, Maker Of Ingress, Spun Out Of Google As Its Own Company". Tech Crunch. 
  20. ^ Kessler, Sarah. "Can A Startup Live Inside Google? Niantic Labs, Creators Of Field Trip And "Ingress" Try". Fast Company. Retrieved May 22, 2013. 
  21. ^ Elder, Jeff. "Google-Incubated Niantic, Maker of Ingress, Stepping Out on Its Own". Retrieved 2016-07-25. 
  22. ^ "Niantic Inc. Raises $20 Million in Financing from The Pokémon Company, Google and Nintendo". nianticlabs.com. Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  23. ^ McWhertor, Michael (October 15, 2015). "Nintendo, Google and Pokémon Company invest $20M in Pokémon Go developer". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved October 15, 2015. 
  24. ^ Nutt, Christian. "Pokémon Go dev Niantic Labs scores another $5 million in funding". www.gamasutra.com. Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  25. ^ "Welcoming Gilman Louie, David Jones, Fuji TV, Cyan & Scott Banister, and Lucas Nealan to the Niantic Family". www.nianticlabs.com. Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Feb 25, 2016: Niantic Labs - Funding Round - Series A | CrunchBase". www.crunchbase.com. Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Niantic raises another $5m in Series A". Retrieved July 7, 2016. 
  28. ^ Pokémon GO Press Conference. YouTube. September 10, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Why Pokémon GO has been a viral success". Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  30. ^ "What Pokémon Go's Success Means for the Future of Augmented Reality". Fortune. 2016-07-23. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  31. ^ Dillet, Romain. "Apple says Pokémon Go is the most downloaded app in a first week ever". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  32. ^ Hussain, Tamoor (December 23, 2016). "Super Mario Run Reaches 50 Million Downloads". GameSpot. Retrieved December 25, 2016. 
  33. ^ Perez, Sarah. "Pokémon Go tops Twitter's daily users, sees more engagement than Facebook". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  34. ^ "5 Charts That Show Pokémon GO's Growth in the US". 2016-07-10. Retrieved 2016-07-27. 
  35. ^ Perez, Sarah. "Pokémon Go passed 100 million installs over the weekend". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-08-05. 
  36. ^ Grant, Christopher (2016-09-07). "Pokémon Go has been downloaded 500 million times". Polygon. Retrieved 2017-03-01. 
  37. ^ "200,000 trips around the Earth! - Niantic". Niantic. Retrieved 2017-03-01. 
  38. ^ Sarkar, Samit (2017-02-27). "Pokémon Go hits 650 million downloads". Polygon. Retrieved 2017-03-01. 
  39. ^ "Adventures Await! - Pokémon GO". Pokémon GO. Retrieved 2017-06-14. 
  40. ^ "Celebrating the First Anniversary of Pokémon GO! - Pokémon GO". Pokémon GO. Retrieved 2017-06-14. 
  41. ^ "Join us in welcoming Sprint as the first Pokémon GO United States partner - Niantic". Niantic. Retrieved 2017-03-08. 
  42. ^ "Hello, Starbucks! - Niantic". Niantic. Retrieved 2017-03-08. 
  43. ^ "Reliance Jio is now an official partner of Pokémon GO in India - Niantic". Niantic. Retrieved 2017-03-08. 
  44. ^ "Stay Warm While Playing Pokémon GO This Winter at Unibail-Rodamco Shopping Centers in Europe - Niantic". Niantic. Retrieved 2017-03-08. 
  45. ^ "The Magic of Harry Potter is coming to a Neighborhood Near You - Niantic". Niantic. Retrieved 2017-11-08. 
  46. ^ "Harry Potter : Wizards Unite". harrypotterwizardsunite.com. Retrieved 2017-11-09. 
  47. ^ "NIANTIC, INC. AND WARNER BROS. INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP FOR HARRY POTTER: WIZARDS UNITE, AN AUGMENTED REALITY MOBILE GAME INSPIRED BY J.K. ROWLING'S WIZARDING WORLD - Niantic". Niantic. Retrieved 2017-11-09. 
  48. ^ "The Niantic family is growing - Niantic". Niantic. Retrieved 2017-11-09. 
  49. ^ Perez, Sarah. "Niantic acqui-hires Evertoon to add a social network to Pokémon Go and other apps". TechCrunch. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  50. ^ Etherington, Darrell (24 November 2017). "Pokémon Go creator raises $200 million ahead of Harry Potter game launch". TechCrunch. Retrieved 25 November 2017. 

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