By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Seemingly out of nowhere, Facebook announced the acquisition of this year’s 2014 CES Best in Show, the Occulus Rift. The social media network paid $2 billion to acquire the virtual reality technology company, and it’s leaving some to wish their favorite new tech toy hadn’t been grabbed by a company that runs fast and loose with privacy concerns.
“Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.
It’s the third recent acquisition for Facebook, having previously bought social media apps Instagram, and WhatsApp. The deal for WhatsApp, in particula,r was especially shocking because Zuckerberg agreed to pay over $19 billion for an app in order to get access to its hundreds of millions of users. But even after saying that Facebook would be taking a break from buying other companies, the allure of Oculus Rift was too tempting. Let’s take a look at the details of the deal.
Facebook has agreed to buy Oculus Rift for $400 million in cash, with a noter $300 million if the company meets performance targets set in the deal. In addition, Occulus founders, as well as venture capitalists who have funded the company since their Kickstarter campaign, will also receive about $1.6 billion in Facebook stock. Not quite the windfall that WhatsApp’s creators enjoyed, but since Facebook is looking to reward Oculus for meeting performance targets, that signals the virtual reality company will continue to operate independently.
Originally sold as a video game platform, the potential in Oculus Rift was quickly identified and more applications have been envisioned, including virtual reality training for astronauts at NASA, architectural design and testing, aviation piloting, and even law enforcement applications.
In fact, the Rift has applications in just about every sector of life that requires a computer, including filmmaking and post-production applications. But even though the ground breaking virtual reality headset has sold 75,000 developer kits to gaming and other developers, the device has yet to appear as a mainstream consumer product and there’s no set date for when it will.
Still, it was gaming that was at the heart of the Oculus development, and it remains their focus to this day. And with their successful Kickstarter campaign and Best in Show accolades at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show that allowed the company to attract venture capital funding, and a ton of video game talent. These include ID Software founder John Carmack, who saw the potential of Oculus early on and joined as their Chief Technology Officer in 2012.
But not everyone is thrilled with Facebook’s acquisition of the company. Minecraft creator Markus Persson (aka Notch) canceled a deal for an Oculus version of Minecraft, simply because he doesn’t like the way Facebook operates. On Twitter, Notch declared that the Oculus Minecraft deal was dead because Zuckerberg’s social media network “creeps him out a little,” and he went on his blog to explain even further.
“I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook,” wrote Notch. “Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform. There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me.”
Notch when on to admit that Social is indeed a great undiscovered country for VR, and that he could see people meeting in a virtual environment all over the world.
“VR is not bad for social,” notch admitted. “In fact, I think social could become one of the biggest applications of VR. Being able to sit in a virtual living room and see your friend’s avatar? Business meetings? Virtual cinemas where you feel like you’re actually watching the movie with your friend who is seven time zones away? But I don’t want to work with social, I want to work with games.”
Notch went on to say that he’s talked to other game developers who have worked with Facebook and have been left in the lurch when the platform had suddenly changed to boost numbers and not necessarily the overall experience, especially from a gaming development point of view. And as such, Notch wanted no part of it.
So while Facebook is planning on letting Oculus do it’s own thing for now, there’s no doubt that they have big plans for the VR device. The only question is, will the two companies be compatible? Only time will tell.
Hat Tip – Mashable