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Facebook Buying Oculus VR For $2 Billion 535

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-on-earth dept.
Several readers sent word that Facebook will acquire Oculus VR for $2 billion. Mark Zuckerberg says the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is the beginning of something big: "This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures." The obvious question is: why Facebook would buy a company focused on VR gaming? The Oculus team says, "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. ... 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." Put more simply: money and connections.
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Facebook Buying Oculus VR For $2 Billion

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:11PM (#46578363)

    Fuck Zuck

  • Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peristaltic (650487) * on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:12PM (#46578375)
    Too bad. Through my use of the Rift, facebook will find a way to monetize me and what I do beyond the purchase price of the Rift. That's what they do; I can't see Facebook's culture changing anytime soon. Nope.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:14PM (#46578393)

    Thousands of people just watched a twenty-something make two billion dollars with their money.

  • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:14PM (#46578399)
    Remember the Futurama version of the internet. Lets go for a walk around Facebook in Virtual Reality...
    No thanks.
  • Re: Farmville! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by popo (107611) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:22PM (#46578499) Homepage

    If Zuck thinks the future of Oculus is about connecting and talking with people in virtual... And NOT firing rocket launchers at them.... Well then he's grossly mistaken about the true purpose of the Internet!

  • Dat manager speak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kruach aum (1934852) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:23PM (#46578503)

    "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; ... 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."

    If you find yourself saying things like this or speaking in this style you should probably just kill yourself because there's no hope left for you as a human being. God damn what an abuse of language.

  • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:24PM (#46578513)
    worse: Comcast
    better: Samsung, other lcd vendors, going public as its own stock
    same: Apple, Sony, Valve, Microsoft, Disney
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:24PM (#46578515)

    Way to throw your early adopters under the bus.

  • DO NOT WANT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guppy (12314) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:29PM (#46578561)

    So, who wants to bet whether or not the basic Oculus Rift will be permanently tied-into the Facebook ecosystem somehow?

    Maybe some "cloud" features (required to access support forums, firmware updates, online configuration page, etc) that will be tied to your Facebook account -- none of which will make much sense, but somehow it will get shoe-horned in there.

  • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:31PM (#46578585)
    Facebook purchased Instagram for 1B, Oculus for 2B, and WhatsApp for 19B. Mystery to me where those numbers come from.
  • by QilessQi (2044624) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:32PM (#46578597)

    By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures."

    We need some PR-friendly slang for this new kind of interaction. I propose that we call it "going outside". There could be entire phone apps devoted to "calling" your friends and arranging to "meet" them somewhere...

  • by RandCraw (1047302) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:38PM (#46578667)

    I was moments away from buying Oculus' 2nd gen SDK just to play with the thing. It could have been a blast.

    But now that they've been assimilated by the Borg, Oculus VR has been mortally poisoned. What a shame.

  • Re:DO NOT WANT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guppy (12314) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:38PM (#46578673)

    Actually, let me amend my previous post, on second thought I don't think it's really the end-users that are the true targets of this acquisition.

    It's would be the game devs. Imagine a world where all commercial Oculus games are required to be developed in such a way that they have some sort of social-media tie into Facebook. It won't happen at the official public release of course -- that would scare too many people off. I imagine they'll play nice until the Oculus achieves market dominance. Then, Facebook will start to creep into the arrangement, as devs find out they need to jump through more and more hoops to maintain access to the Oculus ecosystem.

  • by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:42PM (#46578713) Homepage

    1). So people donated $2.5 million to start up a company that sold for $2 billion, and they don't see a dime of that.
    2). Worse, they have no control over the company, so Facebook now gets to lock down the use of the technology to only big developers that can afford to license it rather than being open to hobbyists the way many of the backers were not doubt had hoped.
    3). Oh, and a "next generation" version that is completely incompatible with the current one is now doubt on the way. Since your old generation version won't be available anymore, good luck getting any developers to support it.

  • by SethJohnson (112166) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:43PM (#46578727) Homepage Journal
    Knutsi- I agree with all your points, but wanted to extend your comment a bit.

    Probably that last line is the most significant motivator for both parties--

    For Oculus, Sony was raising a threat. Also, supply of displays from Samsung might prove to be an unfeasible constraint. Especially if Samsung decides to create their own VR googles. With FaceBook money, they can build their own OLED factory if need be.

    For FaceBook, they have to really worry that a technology on the horizon might take their hundreds of millions of eyeballs off FaceBook html and point them in a different direction- just like FaceBook took eyes away from network television. They just bought what might have been a FaceBook killer in the future. Maybe they aren't planning to weld Oculus rift onto the FaceBook homepage. Maybe they'll let it crush facebook, but they won't care because they'll be riding on top of the beast that stomped it to death.
  • Re:Question! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:44PM (#46578733)

    No. This is worse, way worse. While Microsoft has difficulty in executing things, they still maintain a basic respect for their customers. Facebook on the other hand has demonstrated time and again their absolute lack of scruples and moral integrity when it comes to monetizing their users.

    This saddens and depresses me. I had such optimistic hope for Oculus.

  • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:45PM (#46578749)

    some kind of protection against this kinda thing.

    People who did the Kickstarter got their rewards. They got their dev kits. The kits worked. They arrived a little late. That is all that was ever promised. If I purchase something off EBay I don't get upset if the seller gets purchased by Facebook. Oculus isn't even a service. Its not like Facebook is buying users like they when they purchased Instagram.

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:45PM (#46578751)

    Except that Sony has working demo units, exactly the same thing as Oculus VR.

  • Egads! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guspaz (556486) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:45PM (#46578757)

    A company branching out into tangentially related fields? It's like when that fruit-themed computer company decided to get into the record business. That sure didn't go anywhere, did it? Or when they decided they were going to try their hand at making telephones, what a lark!

    I'm not a fan of Facebook, but I think this is a good partnership for both parties, as well as consumers.

  • What is sad is that current SEC regulation and other securities rules make it illegal for companies to offer shares or actual ownership in a company through something like Kickstarter. I'll admit there is potential for fraud to milk piles of money from people with not much disposable income, but it does get to absurd levels with this too.

    It really seems stupid that you need to be a millionaire in order to simply qualify to spend $10k (or even $1k) of your own money into some random company that you think may make a better mousetrap. Yet at the same time you can throw away piles of money into stupid penny stocks or worse buying a used automobile or a "membership" in a multi-level marketing scheme.

    Kickstarter does offer some protections from would-be fraudsters as they can require a refund of any money received through Kickstarter if for some reason they haven't honored their promises.. especially if rewards were never delivered. Unfortunately all you can get back is the money you paid. Somehow I don't think Occulus is going to care and might just prefer giving refunds for those who are pissed.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:53PM (#46578849) Journal

    The Aquateen Hunger Force episode "eDork" comes to mind...

  • VR a bad idea? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:56PM (#46578893)

    I'll wait and see, but yeah, my interest in the Rift just took a nose-dive as well. A damned shame, it's the first really interesting thing to happen to gaming in a decade or so. Now it looks like we'll have our choice of selling our souls to our choice of Sony or Facebook if we want to play.

    Maybe this is God's way of telling us VR is a bad idea?

  • by Anrego (830717) * on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:58PM (#46578913)

    Depends on how you view the rewards.

    Personally (and I get that this isn't universal), I view them more like the rewards PBS gives when people donate. No one donates because they really want that PBS mug, they donate because they want PBS to be a thing, and the mug is a nice bonus.

    To me this is like donating to PBS and a week later finding that they've sold the station to TLC. What, you don't want to watch scripted reactions about house decorating all day, too bad, we sent you your mug!

    If you view kickstarter as a gamble against getting the promised rewards, then yes, I agree they delivered. I own a dev kit and it's what they promised. But I have to assume at least some backers were buying into the long term goal and not the interim product.

  • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @07:00PM (#46578935) Homepage Journal
    2 billion seems like a lot of money to sink into a gaming headset....Think more about where you could go from where the product is now, and think that other companies are doing that is similar.

    *COUGH**COUGH* GOOGLE GLASS

    Facebook wants to compete with Google. They think Glass is the next iPad, and are trying to get in the game.
  • Re:A week off. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Soulskill (1459) Works for Slashdot on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @07:10PM (#46579021) Homepage

    I'll admit I checked the date more than once..

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @07:17PM (#46579089)

    >exactly the same thing as Oculus VR.
    Only in the sense that they're both VR helmets. IIRC the Sony demo models featured more lag, considerably lower resolution head tracking, and a much inferior screen technology. Meanwhile the Rift folks were suggesting that the final hardware had been selected and they were simply waiting on the component hardware market to make it available to them, with the planned commercial unit having dramatically better screen resolution and less lag than even the second developer kit.

  • by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @07:18PM (#46579105) Homepage

    Yeah, and I'm sure people have HD-DVD dev kits too. Doesn't do much good when there's no one making HD-DVDs anymore.

    Likewise when Facebook modifies the interface to be completely incompatible with your dev kit, what good is it? Maybe you can make stuff for your own amusement, but you'll never be able to share it with anyone who doesn't also already have their own dev kit.

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @07:20PM (#46579121)

    Wait, you think whiny slashdotters are an economic force?

    Notch has already canceled his plans to bring Minecraft to the Rift. Given that the entire success of the Rift so far has been from the community (literally: the Rift was crowd-funded and would not exist today if it wasn't for the community), and I have yet to see a single person in the community comments on a number of sites who doesn't dislike this move, I'm guessing the blowback is going to be pretty massive.

    I myself have already gone from debating whether I should pick up the dev kit version 2 to play around with or wait for the consumer version, to not planning on buying it ever, and I'm not the only one.

  • Re:DO NOT WANT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @07:37PM (#46579291)
    lol, It was purchased because Zuckerberg thought it was neat and he doesn't answer to anyone. The strategy comes later when his employees have to figure out what to do with it.
  • by AdamThor (995520) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @08:02PM (#46579507)

    "It what sense is this like being killed off?"

    Oculus wanted to sell you a monitor. It's in 3D, it straps to your face, it tracks your head, it does a bunch of way-cool stuff, but fundamentally it's just a screen.

    Facebook doesn't want to sell you a screen. Or a keyboard, or a THING. They want to sell you an ECOSYSTEM. They want you to provide them with your data. They want you to be their product. Their continuing revenue stream.

    I just want the screen.

  • P/E ratio of 106 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by goombah99 (560566) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @08:35PM (#46579731)

    No doubt this purchase is not all cash-- probably mainly stock. When your stock is trading at a P/E of 106 then trading 2Billion of your stock to buy another company seems reasonable. It's like buying it with moldy turnips at the fresh turnip price.

  • Re:Nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mellon (7048) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @10:51PM (#46580891) Homepage

    Yup, this is a fucking disaster. I was really looking forward to using an Oculus Rift. Now it's going to be a vehicle for delivering ads, and we won't see a useful implementation until all the patents expire, if then. The worst part is, Zuckerberg probably doesn't even realize he's killing the product by buying it.

You know that feeling when you're leaning back on a stool and it starts to tip over? Well, that's how I feel all the time. -- Steven Wright

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