It’s been some months since the Metaverse Insider wrote a piece on metaverse startups focused on avatar creation. Back in March, we highlighted Ready Player Me. A month later, Genies, though, if you want something really detailed on all the nitty-gritty concerning avatars, we recommend you take a look at An In-Depth Guide on Metaverse Avatars & How to Create One, written by our talented Editor, Jack Boreham, published this summer.
Believing the time was right to turn our attention to that genre of startup once again, the name Tafi came to mind. Founded in 2016, Tafi’s mission is to make personalized avatars and branded digital content available to anyone and everyone who wants to level up their digital personality. Tafi’s best-in-class avatar solutions are portable across platforms including mobile, gaming, XR, social media, messaging, and video communications. Tafi’s investors include Benchmark Capital, Columbia Capital, and Ponte Partners.
So, apart from the above, what differentiates Tafi’s avatar offering from its competitors? First of all, the startup brings next-level 3D art and tech to a perfect symbiosis with its 3D Avatar Creator and eCommerce SDK, which — due to its technological capacity — “empowers developers to deliver and monetize a full-body 3D avatar creation experience for games and apps across mobile, desktop, and VR/AR. Tafi’s cutting-edge technology saves development time and is easy to implement on an affordable budget”.
Other unique offerings made with Tafi are the ability to create custom avatars for VRChat, and dress up AR Emoji, as Tafi’s partnership with Samsung (discussed below) brings a robust lineup of clothing and accessories to the Galaxy AR Emoji store, significantly expanding the options to personalize AR Emojis.
Yet that’s not everything: Tafi’s subsidiary, Daz 3D (founded in 2000), leads the 3D industry with morphable, mashable and versatile characters, compatible content and other 3D assets for over 20 years; while Tafi brings Daz 3D’s Massive Library to Unity with Daz content available on the Unity Asset Store, offering a diverse range of characters, like the ever-popular Ms. Rin, Kala and Sukai, sci-fi creatures extraordinaire, and gentlemen like Holt, Lee and Silas. This unique conversion takes Daz Characters, Outfits and Hair and converts their rigging and full materials, so they’re ready to drop into apps, games, and any other 3D project, making Tafi and Daz 3D a leader in 3D humanoid and avatar technology.
Late in 2021, Tafi also launched an NFT collection: Non-Fungible People, “a utility-rich collection of 8,888 stunningly 3D rendered, algorithmically generated female and some non-binary PFP NFTs features artwork created by Daz 3D’s award-winning international community of female, male, and non-binary artists. The collection will be available in an initial pre-sale coming soon.”
Phoenix From The Ashes
According to an article published late last year available on Tafi’s website, after raising tens of millions of dollars from investors, the Salt Lake City, Utah-based company was losing money by 2019. Seeing a crisis unfolding, Tafi’s board of directors brought in James Thornton as CEO and Matt Wilburn as President. Possessing decades of experience in branding, business development and technology, Thornton had spent nearly six years as CEO of South Jordan consumer electronics company Cricut, and he knew Wilburn after his time as CMO there. Within two months in charge, Thornton and Wilburn were amazingly in negotiations with Samsung. Twelve months later, the company was profitable with tens of millions of revenue. Then came deals with Champion and Warner Brothers, and a collectible NFT for Coca-Cola — a digital retro soda machine — that sold in August for crypto worth $576,000.
Since then, James Thornton has been named 2022 CEO of the Year by Utah Business Magazine, the magazine for executives and entrepreneurs in Utah.
What a turnaround, and proof that great leadership can steady any ship and get things heading in the right direction, which is definitely the case for Tafi.
Notwithstanding all the hype the Metaverse is getting, there are some who see it as a fad that will, well, eventually disappear into the technology ether. But there are others, like Preston Woo, Chief Strategy Officer at Tafi, for example, whose mindset is different:
“At Tafi, our vision is to empower creators and democratize 3D avatar solutions across the virtual worlds. As such, the Open 3D Engine project aligns perfectly with our shared belief in open collaboration and mass innovation […].”