Tilia Secures Strategic Investment From J.P. Morgan, Spins Out Of Linden Lab
Linden Lab announced the spin off of its proprietary finance engine Tilia this morning. Tilia’s solution, built for game, virtual world and mobile application developers handles payment processing, in-game transactions, as well as payouts to creators by converting in-world tokens to fiat currency including USD serving as the backbone of any functioning virtual economy.
Tilia has been running Second Life’s $650 million dollar economy for the past seven years. Financing for the new company is coming from their strategic partner, JP Morgan. “It’s very important virtual worlds have the instantaneous settlement Tilia provides,” said Brad Oberwager, Executive Chairman of Tilia, and acting CEO of Linden Lab. “We can handle very high transaction volume at very low dollar amount that even with USDC, the systems aren’t built for that kind of stuff. We move one 250th of a dollar sometimes.”
In addition to the investment, Tilia is also working with J.P. Morgan Payments to increase payout methods and expand the number of pay-out currencies. Perhaps mosst importantly, partnering with the world’s largest bank will enable Tilia to scale to the potential size of the putative Metaverse. Drew Soinski, Senior Payments Executive, Managing Director, J.P. Morgan Payments, will join Tilia’s board.
Tilia will be led by Aston Waldman, who is CEO, Director & Treasurer. He was previously the CFO of Linden Lab. Randy Waterfield, and Oberwager are the other board members. Oberwager also sits on the boards of two public companies, Asure Software (NASDAQ: ASUR) and Better World (NASDAQ: BWACU). Notably, he owned Bare Snacks, which was acquired by PepsiCo in 2018.
One of the most interesting things about Tilia is that it’s registered as a money transmitter and its user accounts are compliant with state, federal and international regulations. Importantly, Tilia is the only token based virtual payment system that easily and securely converts in-game tokens into fiat currency, wherever the user resides. The partnership with JP Morgan assures a payout in fiat currency pretty much anywhere credit cards work.
The Metaverse is broadly defined as a virtual world where you feel present in real space with other people in real time, as you would in the physical world, or in a social game like Second Life or World of Warcraft. Where there is not a consensus about is the economy that would make The Metaverse work. Everyone assumes it would have to do with crypto, the blockchain and web3. “The largest challenge with a virtual world based on crypto is not because of blockchain.” Explained Oberwager. “Crypto, by definition, can trade outside the virtual world. If the crypto is treated as a speculative security, and it is going up and down in value by the day, it deteriorates the fabric of a social economy.”
A Tilia SDK is available in the Unity asset store. Tilia is easy for developers to implement, and it’s simple and convenient for their customers to use. Transactions are instant and cost pennies, some of which go into the developer’s pocket. At Second Life, those pennies amounted to $86M last year.