In a bid to boost its metaverse push, Google quietly acquired Alter, a New York-based artificial intelligence (AI) avatar startup that helps creators and brands express their virtual identity, for about $100 million. A Google spokesperson confirmed to tech website TechCrunch that Google has bought the AI avatar startup but declined to specify any details.

TechCrunch, which first reported the tech deal, has learned from its source that the transaction took place two months ago. But neither of the companies disclosed the transaction to the public. The tech website also reported that some of Alter’s top executives have updated their LinkedIn profiles, revealing their new roles at Google.

Alter, which started its life as Faceomoji, is an AI platform that provides plug-and-play technology for free to all game and app developers to help them put avatar systems into their apps and games. Last October, the startup raised $3 million in seed funding from Play Ventures, Twitter, and Roosh Ventures.

According to Alter’s LinkedIn page: “Alter is an open source, cross-platform [software development kit (SDK)] consisting of a real-time 3D avatar system and motion capture built from scratch for web3 interoperability and the open metaverse. With Alter, developers can easily pipe avatars into their app, game, or website.”

A source familiar with the deal told TechCrunch that Google plans to add Alter’s tech capabilities to its own content offering, boosting its metaverse play and adding more tech to better compete with social media powerhouse TikTok.