Niantic is the company behind the smash hit game Pokémon Go, and is responsible in large part for bringing augmented reality into the mainstream public view. Now valued at $4 billion, the Google spin-off finds itself at the core of a multi-company race between giants that are seeking to become the bedrock on which the AR ecosystem is built. But the company is also a rarity among unicorns – privately held tech firms worth over $1 billion – it is profitable. So, what makes it tick?

Pokémon Go, which Niantic licenses from the Pokémon Company, feels to some like a hangover from July 2016, when the game was initially released in the US, Australasia, and Europe. Since then, the game has found a large hardcore of fans the world over, garnering more than one billion installs. “People say it’s dying… it’s not,” the company’s CTO Phil Keslin said at Mobile World Congress (Barcelona, February 2019).