Facebook buys virtual reality company for $17 billion less than WhatsApp

For some Facebook already is an alternate reality. Now for almost $2 billion the company aquired Oculus VR

Topics: virtual reality, oculus rift, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, technology, Silicon Valley, ,

It sounds like the plot for a creepy “The Social Network” sequel. Mark Zuckerberg, in his quest to keep Facebook “cool,” buys a company that makes virtual reality headsets. (A billion dollars isn’t cool anymore, so he buys if for just shy of $2 billion!) The headset won’t just be for gamers, no, the headset will take over the world!

This isn’t the plot for a science fiction flick. It happened in reality — actual reality. Today in a press release it was announced that Facebook had reached a deal to buy Oculus VR the company that developed Oculus Rift a virtual reality headset that is coming out later this year. (That’s right, it is not even out yet.) According to the release the payment, “includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock (valued at $1.6 billion based on the average closing price of the 20 trading days preceding March 21, 2014 of $69.35 per share).” Also, if certain milestones are reached, there will also be a $300 million earn-out in stock and cash.

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And Facebook won’t just be using Oculus VR technology for video games. Though the current technology, such as Sony’s Project Morpheus, isn’t being expanded into other realms Zuckerberg wants to change this. According to the release:

“Facebook plans to extend Oculus’ existing advantage in gaming to new verticals, including 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.

Zuckerberg said, “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.” Cue the Trent Reznor soundtrack.

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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