On Mar. 25, Facebook bought virtual reality startup Oculus VR in a $US2 billion deal. There was plenty of excitement from the tech community and from Mark Zuckerberg, who called it a “long-term bet on the future of computing.”
But Oculus, without even having a consumer product on the market yet (they have built prototype headsets that immerse users in a mind-blowing virtual environment) has already received tons of negative feedback, to include death threats.
“These are the kind of mergers that make me cringe,” wrote one commenter when Business Insider broke the news on Facebook. “Good companies being swallowed by the Industrial Facebook Machine.”
But that was a rather measured response, as Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey made clear in a Reddit post:
“We expected a negative reaction from people in the short term, we did not expect to be getting so many death threats and harassing phone calls that extended to our families,” he wrote. “We know we will prove ourselves with actions and not words, but that kind of sh– is unwarranted, especially since it is impacting people who have nothing to do with Oculus.”
And his post follows similar comments from Oculus V.P. of Product Nate Mitchell, who told Game Informer that he and his team were rather surprised the response didn’t go as they had hoped.
“Beyond our core community, we expected it would be positive. I don’t think we expected it to be so negative,” Mitchell told GI. “As people begin to digest it a bit and think about it, you can see that Twitter and Reddit is swinging back the opposite direction. The onus is on us to educate people, and we want to share everything we’re doing.”
Part of that public education, for now it seems, is being done by Luckey, who has been answering plenty of questions from sceptical Redditors. In one answer, he wrote, “A lot of people are upset, and I get that. If you feel the same way a year from now, I would be very surprised.”
Oculus started on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, where it raised $US2.4 million in 2012, as BI’s Steve Kovach reported. Since then, other VCs have invested in the company, to include a $75 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz.