Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift, has gone from its humble beginnings on Kickstarter to reaching a $2 billion deal with social media giant Facebook. The acquisition of the VR company, which is expected to conclude by the end of the second quarter this year, was announced today on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page.
Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we’re in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences. This is where Oculus comes in. They build virtual reality technology, like the Oculus Rift headset. When you put it on, you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scene or a place far away. The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you’re actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it’s different from anything they’ve ever experienced in their lives.
He goes on to assure fans of the Oculus Rift, of whom 75,000 have pre-ordered headsets, that gaming will remain a priority in its development, and that Oculus’s original mission of virtual reality gaming will proceed unhindered. However, Zuckerberg goes on to say that once that objective has been fulfilled, the Oculus Rift will be developed for other experiences outside of gaming: “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.”
Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR, which will remain headquartered in Irvine, California, posted his own announcement on Reddit. He explains that in spite of the unusual pairing of the two companies, their goals with VR are ideologically similar: “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.” You can read the rest of the post here.
Details of the deal include $400 million in cash and 23.1 million Facebook shares, which amounts to $1.6 billion, adding up to the $2 billion number. Should the Oculus Rift achieve certain unspecified performance numbers, bonuses of up to $300 million in cash can be expected.
News of the acquisition was greeted with skepticism and disappointment from the gaming community, with many complaining that the social media giant’s controversies with privacy, data collection and advertising, make it ill-suited for the VR company. A comment from “Soranma” on Luckey’s Reddit post reads: “Palmer, as a die-hard fan and supporter since the first day that the kickstarter went live, I am legitimately disappointed by this news, not to mention your response” and one of the most liked comments on Gamespot’s article of the news reads: “And just like that my excitement for Oculus is gone. Here’s hoping Sony knocks it out of the park.”
More details of the acquisition are sure to follow in the coming days.