One of the pioneers of augmented reality is going out of business.
Blippar, a London-based AR firm, has entered into administration—the British equivalent of filing for bankruptcy in the U.S.—and plans to lay off its entire workforce. The company cited an investor battle over whether to raise additional funds to grow its business-to-business division. (Blippar had at one time been valued at $1.5 billion.)
The news, announced in a blog post on Monday, comes even as the AR market heats up in the U.S., with companies ranging from Apple to Walmart all building or experimenting with the emerging technology.
“Like many start-ups and scale-ups, we are accustomed to adapting and refining our business strategy in an ever-changing industry,” according to Blippar’s blog post. “Our journey as a frontier tech company in a new emerging industry has been incredibly rewarding. It also hasn’t always been easy and along the way we’ve had to take some hard decisions. At all times our goal has been to help drive the AR industry, encourage innovation, build incredible experiences and tools for our clients, and deliver long-term value to our shareholders.”
With an app that had amassed more than 65 million downloads, Blippar spent the past few years partnering with a variety of consumer-focused brands to create new ways of engaging with customers through AR-powered content.
For example, it built an AR ad for Porsche that let users scan a page of Outside magazine to unlock a driving game. Another project, for P&G’s Max Factor, helped women choose cosmetics by matching the colors to their skin.
Along with AR, the company was known for helping users identify real-world objects.
“It isn’t just a narrative,” Omaid Hiwaizi, Blippar’s then-president of global marketing, told Adweek in 2016. “It’s an immersive, emotional experience that’s memorable in a way that most of the time a written story can’t be.”