Facebook to buy virtual reality firm Oculus for $2bn

Facebook is set to acquire immersive virtual reality developer Oculus VR for around $2bn, as an investment for the future, when such technology is expected to become commonplace.

The offer for the firm includes $400m in cash and 23.1 million Facebook common shares, which are valued at $1.6bn based on the average closing price of shares over the 20 trading days preceding March 21st 2014 ($69.35 per share). The agreement also provisions for an additional $300m in cash and stock to be given to Oculus based on the achievement of certain milestones.

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg the decision to acquire Oculus was made to place the firm in a commanding position for the future, when it expects immersive virtual reality technology to become commonplace.

Oculus has received more than 75,000 orders from software developers for development kits for the company’s virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift. Facebook acknowledged that the applications for virtual reality technology beyond gaming are in their nascent stages but several industries are already experimenting with the technology.

The social networking site said it plans to extend Oculus’ existing advantage in gaming to new verticals, such as communications, media and entertainment, education and other areas.

“Given these broad potential applications, virtual reality technology is a strong candidate to emerge as the next social and communications platform,” Facebook said in a statement.

Oculus will remain at its headquarters in Irvine, CA, where it will continue development of the Oculus Rift. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.

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