Blippar, the augmented-reality tech specialist, has been placed into administration after a major benefactor refused to support a new round of funding.
The London-based company, which launched in 2011 and became one of the UK’s first tech "unicorns" valued at $1bn, has now stopped trading and appointed David Rubin & Partners as administrators.
Paul Appleton, partner at David Rubin & Partners, said: "The appointment of administrators has arisen effectively as a result of an alleged dispute over continued funding.
"Following their appointment, the administrators are now exploring all possible options for the future for the business for the benefit of all stakeholders."
Blippar rose to prominence with an app that gave users additional content by pointing their smartphone at real-life objects that contained a code.
In 2016, when more than 65 million people in 170 countries used Blippar’s app, the company unveiled the "Blipparsphere" – an ambitious visual search engine that would use artificial intelligence to identify real-world objects.
But several insiders have accused chief executive Ambarish Mitra of making strategic mistakes. One source said Mitra had let the original Blippar business "wither on the vine, because there was a lack of funds to develop products".
"If they carried on with a dual strategy, they would have the AR equivalent of Photoshop – it would be a very valuable piece of tech and all the creative agencies could now be making their own AR," the source added.
Last week, Blippar’s major backer, the Malaysian government fund Khazanah Nasional, refused to inject more money into the business with a new funding round. Thr fund reportedly lost patience after two years of losses, including £34.4m for Blippar’s most recent financial disclosure in 2017.
Blippar’s other investors include Qualcomm Ventures and Nick Candy’s Candy Ventures. The company was founded by Mitra and Omar Tayeb in 2011 and was reportedly in talks to sell to Snap last year.