Qualcomm bets on the metaverse with a $100-million investment fund

People at a trade show pass beneath signs reading "Qualcomm" and "connectivity."
(Associated Press)

Qualcomm’s new $100-million Snapdragon Metaverse Fund aims to drive further adoption of augmented and virtual reality.


Qualcomm has set up a $100-million fund to invest in virtual and augmented reality technologies in a bid to help jump-start the metaverse.

The San Diego wireless technology firm on Monday announced the initiative, called the Snapdragon Metaverse Fund. It mirrors other funds that Qualcomm has created over the years to advance emerging technologies where it has a footprint. An example is the $100-million Qualcomm Ventures Artificial Intelligence Fund created in 2018.

The company plans to deploy the Snapdragon Metaverse Fund by investing in virtual and augmented reality companies through Qualcomm Ventures, its corporate venture capital arm.

It also will establish a grant program for software developers creating virtual and augmented reality content in fields such as gaming, health and wellness, media, entertainment and education, as well as content targeting businesses.


In its metaverse fund announcement, Qualcomm said that recipients of developer grants could receive more than money, including “the opportunity to gain early access to cutting-edge XR platform technology, hardware kits, a global network of investors, and co-marketing and promotion opportunities.” Applications for the Snapdragon Metaverse Fund will officially open in June.

Delivery robots seem to be everywhere these days. Keeping them out of trouble are human minders who might need to hop on a bike to finish the delivery themselves.

What is the metaverse? In broad terms, it’s a virtual world where users can interact digitally as they would in the real world. Augmented and virtual reality are part of the metaverse. The most common application for now is gaming. But the potential uses span a range of fields and interests.

Using virtual reality, consumers could take lifelike virtual tours of homes for sale or wander through hotels virtually before booking. They could get multiple camera angles at sporting events. Augmented reality glasses could translate signs and menus as overseas travelers stroll through town, or they could overlay instructions on glasses for repair crews fixing equipment.

Qualcomm supplies core technologies crucial to the metaverse, including 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence and virtual/augmented reality processors and software. It has supplied chips and software to top virtual reality headset makers for quite a while.

Expansion of this technology is a key piece of Qualcomm’s efforts to diversify its business beyond smartphones. At January’s CES consumer electronics trade show in Las Vegas, Qualcomm showcased its efforts to expand mobile technologies beyond smartphones and deeper into cars.

“Through the Snapdragon Metaverse Fund, we look forward to empowering developers and companies of all sizes as they push boundaries of what’s possible as we enter into this new generation of spatial computing,” Qualcomm Chief Executive Cristiano Amon said in a statement.

The term “metaverse” is the latest buzzword to capture the tech industry’s imagination -- so much so that one of the best-known internet platforms is rebranding to embrace the futuristic idea.

Qualcomm last month posted strong financial results, driven by 5G Android smartphones, particularly in China, and continued expansion of its wireless technologies into automotive and other non-smartphone markets. For the quarter that ended in December, Qualcomm’s revenue reached $10.7 billion, up 30% over the year-earlier quarter. Adjusted earnings rose 47% to $3.69 billion, or $3.23 a share.