Do you hear that? It’s the ubiquitous moans of tech enthusiasts around the world as Mark Zuckerburg announces that Facebook has made another head-scratcher of an acquisition. This time, Facebook has finalized a deal purchasing the virtual reality hardware company, Oculus VR, for $2 billion.
Fans of this new virtual reality technology are pretty dang mad about this acquisition. Could it be that the collective internet population is overreacting? The answer is, as usual, yes.
I think the real reason Oculus stakeholders feel betrayed is because the company began years ago as a crowd-funded Kickstarter project. The startup turned to the tech community for seed money, and then profited off of it by “selling out” to a company that is held in low esteem by the tech community. This looks bad on everyone involved. Countless top industry names got behind the technology and endorsed the product as “the future of gaming,” and even John Carmack, the creator of Doom, joined the Oculus team. This could have huge implications for the future of Kickstarter, and I predict that tech enthusiasts may be a bit more wary when the next new hot tech needs funding.
But it’s important to remember the purpose of Kickstarter. It’s in the name itself! Its goal is to get an idea off the ground, to get that initial momentum. The moment Oculus was purchased by Facebook, Kickstarter backers should have been celebrating. They did it! Their contributions weren’t all for naught. They got, or will get, their Kickstarter rewards, which correspond to the backing amount they contributed, and more.
The Oculus Rift is on the map for every developer, in every industry. The floodgates are open and soon every piece of media could have a virtual reality element included. Worries about virtual reality ads showing up are misplaced; Facebook is very careful with these types of issues. The competition is there from Sony and others, meaning that Facebook will be very strategic in the way that they integrate the technology with their current services, if they even choose to do that at all.
It’s also important to remember why Facebook is where it is today – because they consistently give users what they will want rather than what they currently want. A stagnant social experience won’t last, and augmented reality might be the only direction that Facebook stakeholders think social media can progress to.
So everyone, take a deep breath. Have a little faith that a multi-billion dollar company might actually know how to give consumers what they want. For now, just take the opportunity to place bets on which company Facebook will purchase next.