Unless you’ve just connected to the Internet for the first time (and if so, welcome) then you would have heard about Facebook purchasing Oculus VR for $2 billion dollars. You would also be aware of the massive amounts of backlash and criticism Oculus VR have copped as a result of the announcement.
This isn’t an entirely new trend. Every time a users beloved service gets acquired, a small but rather vocal subset of users start shouting from the rooftops of their suburban rental homes.
It happened when Facebook bought Instagram, it happened again when Facebook bought Whatsapp. But in the end the panic and disdain is short lived. Instagram’s user numbers are up and Facebook has kept its promise of it being operated separately.
This isn’t one of those situations where a startup with millions of users has been bought out by a big behemoth, it’s a company that begun because of a highly successful Kickstarter campaign funded by the public.
The company raised $2.4 million from 9,522 supporters through Kickstarter campaign in September, 2012. Understandably a lot of those supporters are pissed off they funded a company that sold out to the man.
Even Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson got in on the debate proclaiming he isn’t developing Minecraft for the Oculus Rift any longer and thinks Facebook is creepy.
As hard as it might be for some to accept the fact: Oculus VR owe you and anyone that supported them via Kickstarter nothing.
All promises that Oculus VR made during their Kickstarter campaign were fulfilled which in itself is an achievement, as there have been several high profile cases of delayed and failed Kickstarter products where backers got nothing.
Much of the hate and disdain for the way things have gone is pretty much a big misunderstanding of how crowd-funding actually works. Kickstarter is not an equity crowd-sourcing platform.
In-fact, this is made as clear as night and day on their guidelines page.
Creators cannot offer equity or financial incentives (ownership, share of profits, repayment/loans, cash-value equivalents, etc).
Then we can take it a step further and see what Oculus VR promised on the original crowd-funded campaign here.
For $275 Oculus VR promised:
UNASSEMBLED RIFT PROTOTYPE KIT + DOOM 3 BFG: Try building the prototype yourself! You’ll receive your own DIY kit for building the Rift from scratch, including all of individual parts for the prototype as well as instructions for assembling it by hand. It will also be shipped out a month earlier, before the official dev kits. This also includes a copy of Doom 3 BFG, and full access to the Developer Center, SDK, docs, samples, and engine integrations! (Please add $30 for international shipping) NOTE: This DIY kit is only for true hardware geeks equipped with a hot glue gun. We encourage most of you to get the standard version below!
For $300 Oculus VR promised:
EARLY RIFT DEVELOPER KIT + DOOM 3 BFG: Try the Rift for yourself now! You’ll receive a developer kit, perfect for the established or indie game developer interested in working with the Rift immediately. This also includes a copy of Doom 3 BFG and full access to our Developer Center for our SDK, docs, samples, and engine integrations! (Please add $30 for international shipping)
As pointed out, Oculus VR delivered on everything they promised. All early developer kits were shipped to the supporters who donated to a tier that promised a developer headset.
Nowhere on the page for the original crowd-funding project did it say that Oculus VR would not raise venture capital and nowhere did it say they wouldn’t sell the company if they were given an offer.
So while many will look at it from the perspective of Oculus VR selling out and cheating supporters, they delivered on all of their promises and nothing more. The costs of hardware development are considerably higher than that of software development, the tooling for the aesthetics alone can be a tidy sum in itself.
If you look at the purchase from a non-greed point-of-view, you’ll see that Facebook’s connections within the technology community, pools of sweet IPO investor dollars and desire to enter the virtual reality space will only help Oculus succeed, not kill it.
No company in its right mind purchases something for $2 billion only to run it into the ground. Lets be logical here. Stop being entitled douchebags.