Visitors are pictured in front of an immersive art installation titled "Machine Hallucinations — Space: Metaverse" by media artist Refik Anadol.
Visitors are pictured in front of an immersive art installation titled “Machine Hallucinations — Space: Metaverse” by media artist Refik Anadol. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

  • A South Korean metaverse platform scored a $1 billion valuation in a SoftBank-led funding round.
  • The platform, Zepeto, attracts female users who can dress their digital avatars in high fashion.
  • HYBE, the manager of K-pop sensation BTS, also poured money into the company.

SoftBank invested $150 million in a South Korean metaverse platform that allows users to dress up their digital avatars in high-fashion labels like Gucci and Dior, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

With the Softbank-led funding round, the platform called Zepeto scored a $1 billion valuation, the Journal said. HYBE, the manager of K-pop sensation BTS, invested about $41 million.

The Journal said Zepeto, which launched in 2018, has 2 million active daily users, a majority of which are females 13-24 years old. For comparison, well-known metaverse gaming platform Roblox has more than 40 million active daily users.

According to its website, Zepeto allows users to create their own worlds where they can explore new spaces, hang out with friends, and play games. Users can also buy virtual items or make money by creating and selling their own. Gucci, for its part, launched a virtual space for users to dress their avatars, the Journal said, quoting Naver Z Corp Chief Strategy Officer Rudy Lee who said Zepeto is “probably the world’s largest virtual fashion marketplace.”

A March article from Vogue Business said Gucci has been building out its gaming strategy, in a move that brings in revenue and helps gamers express themselves. It’s partnered with Roblox, Pokemon Go, and The Sims, among others, and introduced its own platforms Gucci Arcade and Sneaker Garage, Vogue said.

Zepeto isn’t the first metaverse-related company Softbank’s Vision Fund II has backed. In early November, the fund poured nearly $100 million into Sandbox, a metaverse where one user bought a $650,000 digital yacht and where virtual land sales are soaring. Softbank did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The concept of the metaverse — a digital world where people can interact — has become mainstream since the company formerly known as Facebook rebranded to Meta.