Facebook's Oculus deal dismays some VR fans

Some early supporters of the virtual-reality gaming company Oculus VR didn’t like Tuesday’s news that the Irvine startup is being acquired by Facebook for more than $2 billion in cash and stock.

“Not happy about this at all,” was a typical comment posted on the Oculus company blog, right below the official post announcing the deal. The commenter, who identified himself as Alex France, a web developer for another company, added, “The community who have served Oculus so well, never mind provided all the initial cash to make everything happen have just been burnt.”

Many other commenters joined in deploring the disconnect: Oculus, a scrappy young tech company got its start by convincing people who believed in it to contribute more than $2 million in a Kickstarter campaign – and none of those contributors got any equity. Facebook, which was also once a scrappy young tech company, now seems to be viewed by some Oculus fans as a giant, advertising-driven conglomerate, while hoodie-wearing Mark Zuckerberg has somehow morphed into the role of “The Man.”

Well-known Swedish game designer Markus Persson, creator of “Minecraft,” had a similar reaction on his Twitter account yesterday:

But even though some industry experts were also skeptical of whether Facebook can deliver on Zuckerberg’s larger vision for virtual reality, Wall Street analysts seemed cautiously upbeat about the deal.

Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter acknowledged that many aspects of the technology are unproven, but he added in a note to clients: “The communications potential is boundless, and could make teleconferencing seem as ancient as smoke signals.”

In another report, Colin Sebastian of Baird Equity Research wrote:

“It is easy to imagine virtual reality playing an increasingly large role in computing and social interactivity. However, the deal is also representative of Facebook’s desire to be at the forefront of technology, rather than playing catch-up, as was initially the case in advertising and mobile. As such, Oculus is reminiscent of Google’s strategy to focus years ahead of the curve, with a willingness to take some risks along the way.”

Facebook’s stock fell in late trading after the deal was announced Tuesday afternoon, but it was up slightly in early trading on Wednesday morning. UPDATE: After that initial bump, Facebook shares fell more than 2 percent after the market opened on Wednesday.

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) 

Brandon Bailey Brandon Bailey (340 Posts)

Brandon Bailey covers Google, Facebook and Yahoo for the San Jose Mercury News, reporting on the business and culture of the Internet.