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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 @05:18PM (#46578469)

    ...sort of works for Facebook now? Bet he didn't see that coming.

  • by Anrego (830717) * on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @05:26PM (#46578531)

    Yeah, I'd be pretty damn pissed.

    I mean I have no problem when a product flops, assuming the person creating the kickstarter didn't know it would flop. If they make a legitimate effort with the money they get, and they didn't miss-represent themselves, then that's fair in my opinion.

    But this is basically them killing off what was a successful project. Maybe it's a reaction to the recent Sony announcement, but even if they thought they were about to lose, to me they still had a duty to the, inappropriately termed I guess, investors.

    This almost makes me wonder if kickstarter needs to add some kind of protection against this kinda thing.

  • Facebook Secondlife? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @05:31PM (#46578583)

    Perhaps Facebook plans to use this thing and build a sort of "Secondlife" experience in the Facebook world?

  • by trawg (308495) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @05:46PM (#46578767) Homepage

    This ./ article from 1999 [slashdot.org] has Carmack talking about Snow Crash:

    Making Snow Crash into a reality feels like a sort of moral imperative to a lot of programmers, but the efforts that have been made so far leave a lot to be desired.

    It is almost painful for me to watch some of the VRML initiatives. It just seems so obviously the wrong way to do something. All of this debating, committee forming, and spec writing, and in the end, there isn't anything to show for it. Make something really cool first, and worry about the spec after you are sure it's worth it!

    I do think it is finally the right time for this to start happening for real. While a lot of people could envision the possibilities after seeing DOOM or Quake, it is really only now that we have general purpose hardware acceleration that things are actually flexible enough to be used as a creative medium without constantly being conscious of the technical limitations.

    The Metaverse of the Snow Crash world was basically an epic social virtual reality experience. I've always figured Carmack would be involved in making that a reality somehow, and the Oculus Rift certainly seems like it could be a critical part. Facebook actually makes sense from a social perspective as well.

    I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people terrified because of imagined privacy implications, but I'm still fascinated to see where this ride takes us.

  • Re: Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Scowler (667000) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @05:50PM (#46578815)
    As far as I know, FB has never sold a hardware product til now. So it's really hard to guess what business strategy they have in mind. If you remember, they even made efforts to avoid the cell phone market, selling FB overlay over Android instead.
  • by Anrego (830717) * on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @05:52PM (#46578847)

    In my view (and I understand this isn't universal), when you buy into a kickstarter it's because you want to see something happen. It's like investing, but instead of expecting money out of it, you expect a thing to become available which otherwise wouldn't (and which you then might have to pay additional money to get). It would be like donating to PBS, receiving your mug, then finding out they'd sold PBS to TLC and were buying an island somewhere.

    For those that view buying into a kickstarter as a gamble against getting the promised reward (which I accept as a valid view), then I agree with this argument. Oculus delivered the dev kit, and as someone who owns one, it's what was promised, with the added bonus that it caught on and there is actual software for it.

  • by SethJohnson (112166) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:03PM (#46578955) Homepage Journal
    Wow. John Carmack quit his job at iD (Zenimax) [polygon.com] to be the CTO at Occulus Rift and then in less than six months is probably getting a few dozen millions of dollars.

    Talk about knowing where to be at the right time....

    Same with Marc Andreesen and his VC cash infusion of $75 million just a few months ago [wired.com]. Those guys are going to turn that $75 mill into a bunch more through this turn and burn deal. Not so much a 'burn,' but it is a very quick harvesting on their investment.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @06:28PM (#46579201)

    I was one of the backers that got an early dev kit.

    As far as I was concerned at the time, the amount I donated got me a dev kit and access to the development kit. Which is exactly what happened, certainly more than you can say for some Kickstarter projects.

    Why would i care if the business was sold for any amount of money? I didn't back it to own part of the business, there was never an expectation of that. It was only ever because I wanted early access to what looked like, and still looks like, the most viable VR headset made to date.

    On "control over the company", devs did have a kind of control in that they could provide feedback to the company, and help uncover problems that would build a better commercial headset.

    As for the "next gen" version, sure it's unlike the current one - but that means a better consumer product in the end, so if you are developing anything for the Oculus instead of just using the dev kit as a toy, why would you have an issue with that? It means an even more viable product in the end will be delivered, which means more customers for whatever you are developing. To someone developing for this the $350 a next-fen dev kit costs is NOTHING compared to resources you put in for development of a new product to run on it.

    I don't know what it means to have Facebook own this. The only short-term thing I can imagine is that the consumer version is closer to market now than it might have been otherwise... since Facebook has not yet destroyed WhatsApp I remain reasonably optimistic that the Oculus will deliver what we were expecting all along with minimal interference from Facebook, and some strong financial backing to take on larger companies like Sony.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @07:10PM (#46579557)

    YOU are not Facebook's customer, you are their product

    The product sits on the shelf for "free"

    The customer pays money to get at the product.

    People who foolishly think of themselves as facebook "users" with "free" accounts are not paying because they are the products and all those details they post about themselves are the free "advertizing" and free "product details" that the products self-generated. The actual customers of Facebook are the big advertizers who are shovelling dollars into the Zuck empire. They are buying access to YOU and YOUR TIME but you are stupidly letting Zuck have those profits. It's an amazing business model for Zuck, really. The products provide themselves, self-document, self-market and yet he gets to sell them (over and over again) and take all the profits.

    The funniest (or most-tradgic) part is that the Zuck clearly despises his "users". What other conclusion can you arrive at? His primary user/product base is young Americans, but he is using piles of money from Facebook to lobby the congress to open the borders to floods of illegal immigrants and remove the caps on H1-B visas to open the floodgates to waves of cheaper foreign tech workers. His political efforts suppress wages and benefits for young workers, drive-up the youth unemployment rate, and drive-up the costs of government entitlement programs (thereby heaping more debts onto the young, who will pay for this for the rest of their lives)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2014 @07:10PM (#46579565)

    Do you understand either Glass or Occulus Rift?

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday March 26, 2014 @04:22AM (#46582203)
    Name one product Facebook acquisition which it has not been monetised by their data mining core business. Here is a list [wikipedia.org] to help you. Whatsapp and Oculus don't count, as they were recent acquisitions and haven't had time to be insufficiently profitable to be butchered.

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