Alibaba acquires Israeli augmented reality company

Mobile games are one of the most popular uses for augmented reality including the hugely popular "Pokémon Go."

Sara Rubenstein,

Alibaba founder Jack Ma
Alibaba founder Jack Ma
Kobi Richter / TPS

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, acquired an Israeli augmented reality company, Infinity Augmented Reality Israel Ltd (InfinityAR), on Friday according to an announcement by both companies on Sunday.

InfinityAR, founded in 2013 in Ramat Gan, develops augmented reality software - a type of technology which superimposes information such as images or sounds onto the user's environment. Mobile games are one of the most popular uses for AR, including the hugely popular "Pokémon Go" which had over 100 million users at one point, and netted over $2 billion and counting.

The financial details of the deal remain under wraps but according to a Globes report, estimates by market sources say that Alibaba paid over $10 million.

Infinity raised $18 million in 2016 from Alibaba and Japanese entertainment and IT company Sun Corporation Ltd., according to Calcalist. The company has raised $25 million as of Friday, Motti Kushnir, CEO and co-founder of Infinity told Calcalist in an interview.

"Alibaba is very interested in our product because it is an open platform, and it believes that it will be a milestone in the shopping and gaming world in the near future," Kushnir told Globes.

"There are experts who claim that the entire cellular sector will undergo a revolution and some of it will even become superfluous with the entry of the augmented reality revolution."

Alibaba acquired an Israeli company in the past - the QR code start-up Visualead Ltd in November 2017 - and has invested in a handful of Israeli start-ups, including auto computer vision startup Nexar Ltd., the data analytics start-up SQream Technologies, another augmented-reality company Lumus and e-commerce search start-up Twiggle.