Facebook buys virtual reality company Oculus for $2 billion

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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Facebook’s latest startup acquisition of bleeding-edge virtual reality developer Oculus on Tuesday will take the leading social media platform into very new territory, and give the VR pioneer the resources it needs to bring the rest of the world along for the ride.

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the surprise deal in a blog post late Tuesday, which consists of $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock for a total of $2 billion for the developer behind the Oculus Rift VR headset — the key piece of tech behind the burgeoning VR development market.

“Oculus’s mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences,” Zuckerberg said.Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won’t be changing and we hope to accelerate.”

Facebook will first focus on further developing Oculus tech and securing video game partnerships — the company’s core mission when it began as a Kickstarter project. After that, Zuckerberg has plans to take the technology into numerous other areas as a new social communications platform.

“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.”

While it has yet to release a consumer project, Oculus VR developer kits have been floating through the offices of major game development studios like Valve (of Half-Life, Portal and Counterstrike fame) and tech conferences like GDC 2014 last week. Oculus was also the first in a series of similar VR projects from major developers like Sony, which announced its own VR headset technology last week.

“Facebook understands the potential for VR,” Oculus said in its blog announcement Tuesday. “Mark and his team share our vision for virtual reality’s potential to transform the way we learn, share, play, and communicate. Facebook is a company that believes that anything is possible with the right group of people, and we couldn’t agree more.”

Oculus’ inventor and chief technology officer shared those sentiments, and added that partnering with Facebook would allow the company to overcome budget-constrained development issues and pursue new avenues.

“In the end, I kept coming back to a question we always ask ourselves every day at Oculus: what’s best for the future of virtual reality?” inventor Palmer Luckey said on Reddit.Partnering with Mark and the Facebook team is a unique and powerful opportunity. The partnership accelerates our vision, allows us to execute on some of our most creative ideas and take risks that were otherwise impossible. Most importantly, it means a better Oculus Rift with fewer compromises even faster than we anticipated.”

“For the record, I am coding right now, just like I was last week,” CTO John Carmack said in a tweet. “I expect the FB deal will avoid several embarrassing scaling crisis for VR.”

“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,” Zuckerberg said, adding that he “can’t wait to start working with the whole team at Oculus to bring this future to the world, and to unlock new worlds for all of us.”

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