The Latest Company Acquired By Facebook Has North Texas Connections.
Facebook spending billions of dollars to acquire a company? That’s nothing new.
What is new, however, is Facebook spending billions to acquire a company that has connections to Dallas.
Yesterday, the news broke that Facebook dropped a cool $2 billion to acquire Occulus Virtual Reality, a company founded 18 months with $2.4 million in Kickstarter donations. Since that initial fundraising effort, the company has since raised another $91 million in start-up funds.
Now, here’s the local point of interest: Occulus, though based in Irvine, California, also maintains an office in Dallas because its chief technology officer, John Carmack, is based in North Texas. You may know Carmack as big-wig programmer behind such PC games as Doom, Wolfenstein 3-D, Commander Keen and Quake. He’s also one of the founders of, Richardson-based, id Software, which is credited with creating the first-person shooter genre. To wit: There’d be no Goldeneye, no Call of Duty and no Halo without these guys.
About a year ago, Carmack was brought into the Occulus fold.
Oculus’ goal? To bring virtual reality to the masses. But their product isn’t the type of subpar offerings into this market we’ve seen in the past (we’re looking at you, Virtual Boy). It’s the real deal: Occulus features a wearable display — not unlike goggles — that allows users to enter into immersive gaming worlds.
While the company’s products aren’t yet available on the consumer level, Occulus has already sent developer kits to video game makers, who have since used the technology to make spec games and convert existing products to the VR environment. To date, over 75,000 of these kits have been ordered from the company, which, if nothing else, shows a widespread interest in the product. With that sort of demand, we expect the company’s product to be available for consumer purchase within the next two years.
Facebook’s interest in Occulus isn’t on the gaming front, though. Said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a statement released announcing the acquisition: “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate.”
But not everyone is thrilled with the acquisition — especially the chunk of people of who donated to the company’s original Kickstarter campaign and who are now left wondering where their cut of the company’s huge profits is. Among the most vocal of that group has been Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson, who has then to his blog to declare that, while he was very happy for the team, he would no longer associate himself with Oculus or work with them in the future.
While both Oculus and Notch agree that virtual reality is the future, Notch says he doesn’t approve of the direction the company is taking. And though there’s probably some merit to Notch’s argument, Oculus envisions its technology being used all over the world. Facebook coming along and offering to help with that vision, we imagine, was probably a pretty difficult offer to turn down.
Does this Facebook takeover mean we’re finally going to see someone declare there is an official tech boom again in the area? The fact that AMC is launching in June a new TV series from Breaking Bad‘s producers about the ’80s PC boom in Dallas is, perhaps, one indicator. Likewise with communication and tech companies like AT&T, Microsoft, Nokia, Blackberry, Texas Instruments and gaming companies Gearbox and id Software, it’s hard to argue there’s not already a pretty huge, if not pretty underrated, tech scene bubbling in the area.
Oculus hasn’t yet announced any changes to its corporate structure or its locations in the wake the acquisition, only saying that they are now partnering with Facebook to make virtual reality a ubiquitous facet of technology. Hopefully this means that, here in Dallas, we’ll continue to reap the rewards of the tech boom happening in Silicon Valley and across the world.
That way, Dallas gets to continue being one of those silent partners — without having to deal with all of those assholes wearing Google Glass.