Retail in Asia


Alibaba invests US$60 million in AR startup Nreal

Nreal, an augmented reality (AR) glasses maker, announced that the company has raised US$60 million in a funding round led by Alibaba Group.

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Founded by entrepreneur Xu Chi in 2017, Nreal raised US$3 million of angel funding later that year. The Beijing-based company opened an R&D center in Wuxi, eastern China, and raised US$40 million in a B1 fundraising in 2020.

Backed by investors such as private equity firms Hillhouse Capital, Sequoia Capital and electric carmaker Nio, Nreal has raised US$231 million across seven rounds, according to business database Crunchbase. The Series C+ round is an extension of a fundraising announced in September.

The new capital will be used to boost research & development, expand into new markets and build partnerships to create more content for users.

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While AR and VR are in the early stages of adoption, cheaper sensors, the spread of the Internet of things, and demand for realistic digital interaction are expanding the market, said consultants at Bain. The global 3D interactive and immersive environment, or metaverse, will hit a valuation of US$678.8 billion by 2030, according to consultants at, spurred by the fast-growing AR and VR industries.