‘Pixar of the Internet’ Invisible Universe Raises $12M

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

‘Pixar of the Internet’ Invisible Universe Raises $12M
Photo courtesy of Invisible Universe

Invisible Universe, a self-described “Pixar of the internet,” has raised $12 million in Series A funding to build out its animated franchises.

Seven Seven Six, the venture capital firm of Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, led the fundraising round. Cosmic Venture Partners, Dapper Labs and Spencer Rascoff’s 75 & Sunny participated in the raise, too. (Disclosure: Rascoff is co-founder and executive chairman of dot.LA.)

L.A.-based Invisible Universe partners with high-profile celebrities to create original animated characters that live on social media. Examples include Squeaky & Roy—the apparent long-lost toys of TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio—as well as Qai Qai, a living doll that belongs to tennis legend Serena Williams’ daughter (Williams is married to Ohanian).

The animation studio posts videos of its characters on social platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Invisible Universe said it has more than 8.5 million followers across its accounts and an engagement rate above 10%.

By distributing intellectual property (IP) on social media, Invisible Universe aims to popularize its franchises on free platforms before commercializing them. The approach also allows the startup to share new content more frequently, instead of making fans wait months or years between new seasons or film installments, CEO Tricia Biggio told dot.LA.

When Invisible Universe does pitch its IP to streamers or toy companies, the startup can point to established fan bases to make its case, she said. After Qai Qai became a hit online, for example, the studio used the character’s IP to sell NFTs and develop a forthcoming children’s book authored by Williams, called “The Adventures of Qai Qai.” Invisible Universe is in the midst of shopping a series to streamers, but hasn’t closed a deal yet, she said.

“Most interestingly, we have tested the creative,” Biggio said. “I think for a studio or publisher—anyone that's agreeing to make an investment in your IP—for them to know that you've taken the time to test it and you've really built affinity through that, I think is a really powerful value proposition.”

Invisible Universe plans to use the fresh funds to launch more animated IP, expand to new platforms and further monetize its existing franchises. The company is also interested in delving into the world of Web3, a decentralized vision for the internet based on blockchain technology. This fall, Invisible Universe will launch a parody reality series on social media dubbed “The R3al Metaverse,” using characters based on popular NFT collections. The startup bought three NFTs and secured licenses for two more that fit well with the story, Biggio previously told dot.LA.

Seven Seven Six Co-founder Katelin Holloway, a former Reddit exec, likened Invisible Universe to Disney’s Pixar, where she served as a script supervisor. Holloway, an Invisible Universe board member, noted that popular IP is driving growth, audience retention and franchise expansions for entertainment companies.

“I saw the Pixar magic up close,” she said in a statement. “And [Invisible Universe] is building the same kind of unforgettable IP with an innovative approach that reduces both time and capital while embracing audience feedback.”

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Sports Stadiums Are Turning to Immersive Sound to Keep Fans Engaged

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Sports Stadiums Are Turning to Immersive Sound to Keep Fans Engaged
Photo: Edge Sound Research

In 2020, the Minnesota Twins experimented with a new technology that brought fans the ability to physically feel the sounds they were hearing in the stadium in the back of their seats as part of a new immersive way to experience baseball.

The tech was made by Riverside-based startup Edge Sound Research, which built a mobile lounge – basically, a small seating section equipped with its technology and on wheels to travel around the stadium – for Twins fans to experience what it calls “embodied audio” around Target field. It was a bid on the Twins’ part to keep fans more engaged during the game, and Edge Sound Research CEO Valtteri Salomaki said the Twins were impressed.

Read moreShow less

LA Venture: B Capital’s Howard Morgan on What To Look For in Potential Founders

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Venture: B Capital’s Howard Morgan on What To Look For in Potential Founders
Provided by LAV

On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, B Capital Group General Partner and Chair Howard Morgan discusses his thoughts on early stage investing and the importance of company ownership.

Read moreShow less

Mullen Automotive Pays Millions to Settle Lawsuit with Qiantu

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Mullen Automotive Pays Millions to Settle Lawsuit with Qiantu
Image Courtesy of Mullen Automotive

Like a zombie from the grave, Mullen Automotive’s electric sports car grift lives once more. Earlier this week, the Southern Californian company announced that it had resolved its contract disputes with Chinese manufacturer Qiantu and would begin to “re-design” and “re-engineer” the DragonFLY K50 platform for sale in the United States.

On the surface (or if you just read the press release) this would seem to be excellent news for the Californian EV startup. But the saga of the Mullen/Qiantu partnership is long, and in the context of their shared history, the deal’s terms look considerably less favorable for Mullen.

Read moreShow less