Facebook today announced plans to acquire virtual reality technology firm Oculus VR for approximately $2 billion. The price includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock (valued at $1.6 billion based on the average closing share price of $69.35).
The reason for the “approximately” is not just because of the changing price of shares. The agreement, which is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014, also includes an additional $300 million earn-out in cash and stock based on the achievement of certain milestones, so the $2 billion price tag could indeed end up being much higher or lower.
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For those who have never heard of Oculus VR, the company makes the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset mainly used for 3D gaming. The company was founded by Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov, and Nate Mitchell.
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has high hopes for the company:
After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.
This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.
Facebook wants to extend Oculus’ existing advantage in gaming to new verticals, including communications, media and entertainment, education, and “other areas.” In other words, the company will be using Oculus as a base to experiment with virtual reality, hoping it will be the next platform after desktop and mobile.
“We are excited to work with Mark and the Facebook team to deliver the very best virtual reality platform in the world,” Oculus VR co-founder and CEO Brendan Iribe said in a statement. “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.”
Oculus will maintain its headquarters in Irvine, California, and as Zuckerberg says with all his recent major acquisitions, will continue to operate independently.
See also – Oculus VR unveils new Rift virtual reality headset for developers, will ship for $350 in July and HBO’s Game of Thrones Oculus Rift exhibit is the most immersive entertainment I’ve ever encountered.
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