Finding a product-market fit isn’t always easy, but if you’re the end user experiencing a real pain point, the solution might be more obvious. That is the case for newly funded ones Sharing creatorsa platform that helps game developers manage and store large media assets as remote working becomes more common in the industry.
The Bay Area-based startup recently closed another round of funding, a $3 million tranche from China’s 5Y Capital and $2 million from PDF reader Foxit.
Before getting into art management, Ada Liu ran a game design consultancy that brought in several million dollars annually; that company now runs alongside her new venture.
“Dropbox started in 2007, the year the first iPhone was launched, marking the transition from PC to mobile. Ten years later, the fundamental way of data storage has not really evolved,” says Liu when asked why she decided to start a new start-up despite the consultancy firm’s good income. “Wealth management technology will have to move forward.”
Liu has worked as a game artist for NetEase’s San Francisco outpost, China’s second-largest gaming company, and is uniquely positioned to understand gaming companies in China and the US
Indeed, she saw an opportunity as China tightened control over the domestic gaming sector, prompting Tencent, NetEase, and emerging developers like MiHoYo to seek more growth abroad. A number of them began outsourcing production to Liu’s company, whether designing in-game characters or creating promotional materials for overseas markets – all work that can’t be done efficiently in-house as video games becoming more advanced by the day.
As her design business took off, Liu discovered another demand from her Chinese clients.
“When companies sent us raw material, the files took a long time to download, but we often only had four weeks to work on a project,” she says. “We looked for productivity tools on the market, but they were too expensive or outdated, so we made our own in-house tool…and soon others started asking if we could sell the software to them.”
Anyone who’s run a media company knows the pain of looking up an old asset, likely lost in the ever-expanding server as employees come and go. If someone is working on the wrong asset, money is wasted and deadlines are missed.
“A game can have like 200 characters, each of which can take about 30 days of work, so even screwing up one [character] loses a lot of the time,” says Liu.
There are a handful of digital asset management tools out there, but very few designed to deal with large 3D assets. Share Creators is built for transferring files of several hundred gigabytes that can be viewed in the cloud without the need for native software, a feature that existing file sharing services lack, Liu claims. The preview option, which can handle more than 100 file types, is powered by compressing assets and converting media formats to be compatible with the platform.
Developers also don’t have to worry about enforcing a consistent filename system. That’s provided by Share Creators, which uses AI to recognize and tag images so users can easily search items using keywords like “grass.” Like many other creative tools that benchmark against Figma, the platform makes remote collaboration one of its key features. It also taps into another popular tech trend — machine-generated content — as it weighs the option of letting users produce simple assets like trees directly from AI engines.
Share Creators, which went live a year ago, received 200 sales quotes in the past month, according to Liu. China’s “top 20” gaming companies have now used the platform to manage media assets. Three major accounts pay more than $200,000 a year for privately deployed and custom services – large companies may struggle to upload their prized art assets to a third party, which is why the platform supports private hosting. Ten other customers pay for the regular subscription service, says the founder.