Today Oculus is being acquired by Facebook in a fantastic deal that not only validates the team's vision and hard work but one that will also accelerate their ability to bring an unprecedented VR experience to all of us. There is no way to describe just how amazing the journey has been thus far, but it is fitting to borrow a line from Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash, a book I read 15 years ago in order to be ready for the day Oculus crossed my path:
“See, the world is full of things more powerful than us. But if you know how to catch a ride, you can go places.”
There is no doubt that this has always been the team to solve VR: from the days of Palmer's garage exploits with rubber bands and duct tape to the additions of the legendary John Carmack and supremely talented Atman Binstock— not to mention dozens of other super hackers, PhDs, and game industry veterans along the way. There has always been a ridiculously deep bench to pursue this opportunity. Factor in a CEO who has been fanatical and crystal clear about the product experience he wants to deliver to the market and it’s obvious that these are the folks who will dent the universe.
Timing has also been on Oculus’ side. Leveraging what Chris Anderson, ex-Wired editor, called the "peace dividend of the smartphone wars," with respect to the displays, electronics, and sheer manufacturing capacity available for high quality consumer devices at affordable prices, this exceptional team has come together to make something amazing. There have been other attempts at VR in the past, but only with all of these pieces in place has its time finally come. The fact that the company's DK1, which provides a mere shadow of the experiences yet to come, could sell more units than all other VR headsets combined motivated developers big and small to bet big on what Oculus is planning to deliver.
Most importantly though, and what I've never seen before in my career in the tech industry, is the sheer passion and commitment of the Oculus community. You can see their fervor on the Oculus developer site where questions are asked and answered with a proficiency and passion that belies how early it remains for VR experience creation, to Reddit and HackerNews where support for what the guys are doing borders on rabid. It has inspired employees, developers, and investors alike.
Living online with this level of passion reminds me on a daily basis of Brendan's visit to Cambridge when he was raising his first round of funding. Lugging a huge rolley suitcase with a monster PC and a pair of DK1 goggles that had traveled the length of the country with him, it took all of 3 minutes for me to decide Matrix had to be involved with the project. As Brendan and I walked out into Kendall Square, I happened to look down a side street where another entrepreneur, Edwin Land, started the Polaroid Corporation with a simple guiding principle— one that the entire Oculus team lives by on a daily basis. I have no doubt they share this principle with their new parent:
“Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.”
Congratulations Oculus, now get me my metaverse!