UK-based WebAR studio Blippar is planning an impending US expansion. To understand what that means for the US and for the company, ARPost reconnected with CEO Faisal Galaria.
What Brought Blippar to This Point
Galaria has been the CEO of Blippar since the struggling company was purchased by Candy Ventures – the same firm that backs Audioboom, Biotech, Ralph & Russo, and some twenty other companies. Galaria was familiar with the AR company at the time because he had worked with them when he was Global Head of Corporate and Business Development at Spotify.
In the three years since the acquisition, the company has turned from an ad-based navigation app to focus on WebAR brand activations. The development team has worked with a number of major companies including Disney, AT&T, and General Mills, just to name a few. The company also offers its own experience builder.
“We spent a number of months rebuilding the Blippbuilder, our content, and authoring tool,” Galaria told ARPost in 2020, fresh off of the OnePlus Nord virtual launch event. “Part of what I’ve done in this incarnation of Blippar is to focus it down and make it easier and easier to use.”
Last year, the company built on this momentum by releasing a free beta of a WebAR software developer kit (SDK) built around simultaneous localization and mapping through a user’s mobile device. The SDK was released with the promise that users could “Build once, publish anywhere.”
Blippbuilder updates, the WebAR SDK, and numerous activations in the last few years have meant that the company is bigger than ever. A recent CB Insights report ranked them among the tech companies making the metaverse a reality. In short, the company needs a bigger blip here in the States.
AR’s British Invasion
“We have tripled revenues for the last three years since 2019. Building out the revenues and continuing at that pace means we need more boots on the ground,” Galaria told ARPost in a video interview. “We’re getting a lot of clients that are coming back to us … we want to be closer to those clients.”
How many more boots on the ground? According to Galaria, the company is currently just under 70 people strong and is planning to add an additional 15-20 people during this initiative.
That’s mainly across sales and the software-as-a-service areas. This will help create more mind-blowing Blippar experiences, but it will also help companies creating their own experiences with Blippbuilder.
“Part of the reason for building our presence in the US is to build even deeper relationships with agencies and onboarding creative agencies to Blippbuilder,” said Galaria.
To be clear, Blippar is already an international business. Other locations will be seeing more blipps in their locales as well, but the US is something of a priority. According to Galaria, around 80% of their revenue is already from outside of the UK, and most of that 80% comes from the United States.
“Whilst we’re expanding internationally, the vast majority of our boots on the ground will be in the US, which has proven to be our biggest market,” said Galaria.
While one might expect that Blippar is trading competition with UK companies like Zappar, for competition with US companies like 8th Wall, Galaria explains that that’s not exactly how it works. He sees Blippar’s service in relation to other classes of service rather than in relation to service providers.
“We think about the competition set for Zappar as being heavy creators like Unity and then the social media AR companies like Meta Spark or Snapchat,” said Galaria. “Unity and Unreal are wonderful but heavy-weight systems … on the other hand, social media platforms are building within walled gardens.”
A Look at the AR Market
Blippar’s expansion is news for the company, and it’s news for the United States. Perhaps more than either of those, it provides an interesting insight into how the companies that create AR experiences and engines operate in relation to one another, as well as other industries.