For Oculus Rift backers, the deal with Facebook feels like betrayal
Facebook says it will acquire the maker of the Oculus Rift in a deal worth a reported $2 billion. But not everyone is impressed with this Oculus Rift deal.
This week, Facebook announced it was acquiring Oculus VR, the makers of the Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles, in a deal worth a reported $2 billion. In message on his Facebook wall, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company would eventually make Oculus a "platform for many other experiences," such as education or "face-to-face" meetings between people and their doctors.
And in a blog post, the founders of Oculus explained that the acquisition "gives us the best shot at truly changing the 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."
In fact, there is only one constituency that seems unhappy with the deal, and that's the thousands of users that once backed the company on Kickstarter, where Oculus VR managed to drum up approximately $2.5 million in cash.
As the New York Times notes, many of those backers received paltry renumeration for their cash, such as a "a sincere thank you from the Oculus team" in exchange for a $10 donation.
Now the gamers that helped get Oculus off the ground are in the strange position of watching the company's founders get extremely wealthy.
"This is a pure sell-out because everyone at Oculus just got richer than their wildest dreams two years ago. Good for them, too," one user wrote in the comments section of the Oculus blog. "They can continue to work on this tech, or they can retire next year. The only losers are the consumers, because the best VR team in the world just lost their thirst for blood. But who cares about consumers? They don't do anything but sit and consume, anyway."
Another chimed in that it was "an epic betrayal."
This is unlikely to be the last time such a conflict arises, especially considering the popularity of crowd-funding sites.
But in an interview with Bloomberg, Bertrand Schmitt, chief executive officer of game-industry tracking company App Annie, counsels the disgruntled masses to look for the upside. "Gaming technology pushed the boundaries of where things are going, and a game-focused company like Oculus represents a stepping stone towards a broader application of virtual reality," he says.