Google is challenging TikTok anew with acquisition of AI avatar startup Alter

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(Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google appears to have acquired AI avatar startup Alter.
  • The search giant reportedly spent $100 million to purchase the firm in a supposed bid to challenge TikTok anew.
  • Google apparently acquired Alter two months ago without much fanfare.

Google may have found a new way to pose another challenge to TikTok, this time by acquiring Alter for $100 million. The startup company creates artificial intelligence-based avatars for use in games and social media.

TechCrunch reports that Google has confirmed the acquisition, which apparently closed two months ago without making a public announcement of it. A Google representative has also confirmed the report to Android Central, but did not share further details of the acquisition.

Some of Alter's executives announced on LinkedIn that they have started new jobs at Google. For example, Alter's chief co-founder and operating officer, Jonathan Slimak, revealed on the social media platform that he joined Google in September, though his new role was not specified.

Alter was previously known as Facemoji, a tech startup that built a plug-and-play platform designed to provide avatar systems for games and apps without the need to rely on its software development kit. Last year, Facemoji raised $3 million in a seed funding round led by Play Ventures. Twitter was also among its early backers, along with other investors.

Google's latest move is seen as yet another attempt to take on TikTok. Since its launch in 2020, YouTube Shorts, the search giant's TikTok competitor, has seen steady growth. It is unclear how Google's acquisition of Alter fits into its ambition to cut into TikTok's market share. That said, following rumors earlier this year that Google was working on Project Iris, Alter could play a role in Google's AR/VR effort, which includes an AR headset that appears to render graphics in the cloud.

Digital avatars are becoming more widespread as tech giants continue to invest in this segment. Meta, for example, has invested heavily in developing the metaverse, most recently opening a fashion store for its metaverse avatars. With Google's latest acquisition, this relatively new area of technology appears to be gaining traction.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.