In what can be described as something completely unexpected, Facebook has announced that it will be acquiring Oculus VR – the makers of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset – for US$2 billion.
According to Facebook, the decision to acquire Oculus was purely based on its belief that virtual reality is a “strong candidate to emerge as the next social and communications platform”. The social network plans to “accelerate” Oculus’ growth and expand the use of the Rift (and its other VR tech) to new areas such as communications, entertainment and education.
“Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate,” Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, said in a press release.
“We are excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world,” Brendan Iribe, the co-founder and CEO of Oculus VR, said.
“We believe virtual reality will be heavily defined by social experiences that connect people in magical, new ways. It is a transformative and disruptive technology, that enables the world to experience the impossible, and it’s only just the beginning”
The US$2 billion deal is a combination of cash and stock – with $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock that is valued at US$1.6 billion, according to its press release.
Like WhatsApp and Instagram, Oculus will maintain its independence from Facebook – keeping its headquarters in Irvine, California; and will continue production and development of the Oculus Rift.