Facebook has acquired virtual reality (VR) specialist Oculus VR, known for producing the Oculus Rift headset, in a deal worth $2bn.
Developers have placed more than 75,000 orders for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset development kit, following its launch on crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Facebook intends to leverage this interest in the technology for use in social media.
CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg said: “Oculus has a chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”
Up to now, virtual reality has been mostly been limited to gaming, but this purchase is intended to bring it to real-world applications to give users a virtual presence at events they cannot physically attend.
The deal consists of $400m in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock, worth around $1.6bn, along with a potential $300m in performance-based bonuses, in a deal expected to close in the next quarter of 2014.
Brendan Iribe, 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 beginning.”
The company will retain its head office and infrastructure.
This is not the first major purchase Facebook has made this year. The company bought mobile messaging platform WhatsApp last month for $19bn as the company attempts to both maintain its lead in the social media space.
The move to buy the Oculus shows Facebook also has designs on Google’s augmented reality Glass headset that is due for full launch later in the year as it moves to ensure it is ready to meet the demand for the next trends in the tech market.
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