The lights are on
Facebook has just announced that it will acquire virtual reality startup Oculus VR for approximately $2 billion. The deal includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock valued at approximately $1.6 billion.
When we spoke with founder Palmer Luckey at Gamescom 2013, we discussed mobile experiences that would give users an opportunity to enjoy content on the go in a more immersive way. During GDC last week, that discussion was enhanced with further talk of “level zero” experiences like virtual tourism and relaxation software – like putting users on a beach, for instance.
“At first glance, it might not seem obvious why Oculus is partnering with Facebook, a company focused on connecting people, investing in internet access for the world and pushing an open computing platform,” Oculus leadership posted to the company website. “But when you consider it more carefully, we’re culturally aligned with a focus on innovating and hiring the best and brightest; we believe communication drives new platforms; we want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step.”
"Mobile is the platform of today, and now we're also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow," Zuckerberg said in a statement. "Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate."
On his Facebook timeline, Zuckerberg further discussed the acquisition. “After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home.”
“This partnership is one of the most important moments for virtual reality: it gives us the best shot at truly changing the world,” the Oculus team says. “It opens doors to new opportunities and partnerships, reduces risk on the manufacturing and work capital side, allows us to publish more made-for-VR content, and lets us focus on what we do best: solving hard engineering challenges and delivering the future of VR.”
According to Facebook, the deal will likely close sometime in the second quarter of this year.
Our TakeAfter spending time with the Oculus team last week, this comes as quite a shock. The independence that CEO Brendon Iribe and founder Palmer Luckey enjoyed gave them the freedom to pursue Rift development at their own pace. Facebook says it will allow Oculus to operate independently, and for Luckey’s vision of VR to come to fruition, that must continue to be true.