Social Media and Virtual Reality? Facebook Acquires Oculus For $2 Billion

Image by Sergey Galyonkin
Image by Sergey Galyonkin

What could a social media company possibly want with virtual reality technology? Well, we might soon find out. Today, Facebook announced that it has acquired Oculus, the company behind the widely discussed Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.

To try and describe what Oculus Rift could do wouldn’t do it justice, so watch this:

Clearly, Facebook has more planned for Oculus than a virtual reality Farmville. In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Facebook noted that the uses of virtual reality technology are still being explored and discovered.

“While the applications for virtual reality technology beyond gaming are in their nascent stages, several industries are already experimenting with the technology, and Facebook plans to extend Oculus’ existing advantage in gaming to new verticals, including communications, media and entertainment, education and other areas,” the post reads. “Given these broad potential applications, virtual reality technology is a strong candidate to emerge as the next social and communications platform.”

In the post Zuckerberg calls virtual reality one of the “platforms of tomorrow” and—perhaps boldly—states that “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever.” While we truly haven’t even scratched the surface of virtual reality, the idea that staring into goggles and walking in place will make us more social is a bold claim for him to make.

Facebook acquired Oculus for about $2 billion ($400 million cash, 23.1 million in shares) and the possibility of an additional $300 million in cash and stock, if they hit certain (unstated) milestones. The cost seems like a hefty sum for a product with a very small user base and whose immediate value for Facebook seems pretty unclear. Then again, Google purchased thermostat company Nest for $3.2 billion, so maybe they were just jealous of a rival’s new toy.

What do you think Facebook could use Oculus Rift for? Let us know in the comments below.