Partnering with Andreessen Horowitz


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Today, we are excited to announce our investment from, and partnership with, Andreessen Horowitz. The brilliant, VR-loving and Soylent-consuming Chris Dixon will be joining our board. He will be advising Improbable in ‘tag team’ with Marc Andreessen. See what Chris wrote about our partnership here.

Improbable is creating a computation platform that makes simulated worlds possible. Simulated worlds are digital spaces that can run in real time containing millions of entities with interesting behaviour that work in concert to create functioning worlds: spaces with their own rules and properties that a multitude of people can simultaneously change, explore and visualise in as many different ways as developers can imagine. We think simulated worlds can be used to solve problems in areas as diverse as defence, healthcare, economics and entertainment.

Making simulated worlds of this kind involves many technical challenges. One of the hardest ones is distributing a simulation of this kind across thousands of servers in real time. The elements of these simulations have many interdependent layers of complexity, most of which are not embarrassingly parallelisable (so traditional approaches to scaling won’t work). You can imagine our approach as a swarm of decentralised, heterogenous micro-services collaborating together to form a simulation much larger than any single micro-service can understand. As simulated worlds rapidly evolve, the most efficient distribution of these micro-services varies, so they need to migrate between physical machines in real time. Additionally, the system must handle potentially huge numbers of users interacting with and updating the simulation simultaneously.

We also want to make this experience as simple and cheap as possible for developers. This is significant because the worlds we want to see people build and explore won’t be possible if creating them takes decades or enormous sums of money. Since our beginnings almost three years ago at Cambridge University (whose support we are deeply thankful for), we’ve solved many of the problems needed to make simulated worlds a reality. We are now supporting our first customers.

At the moment we're working on a new technology for gaming. There are all kinds of incredible experiences that game developers can build with our technology – experiences which, as gamers, we’ve always wanted to see. We are partnering with an exciting group of studios who are ready to experiment on brand new tech. Some of these projects have made their way into the press already; we’ll let them speak for themselves.

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