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Facebook Acquires Virtual Reality Company Oculus VR For $2 Billion

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In this May 16, 2012 photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. Facebook's stock has fallen below $30 for the first time. That's down 20 percent since its stock began trading publicly on May 18, following one of the most anticipated stock offerings in history. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
In this May 16, 2012 photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. Facebook's stock has fallen below $30 for the first time. That's down 20 percent since its stock began trading publicly on May 18, following one of the most anticipated stock offerings in history. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Facebook's stepping into the world of virtual reality.

The company announced on Tuesday afternoon it has reached a deal to acquire Oculus VR, a company paving new roads in the field, for $2 billion. The deal is comprised of $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock.

Oculus VR's flagship product is the virtual reality goggles known as the Oculus Rift, which was first funded through a massively successful Kickstarter campaign. It has already received more than 75,000 orders for development kits.

"After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences," Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post about the purchase. "Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home."

oculus rift

A prototype of the Oculus Rift, pictured above.

Over the past year, the Internet has been abuzz with each new video that displays Rift's capabilities -- some serious, some fun. Developers have used the Rift to allow a man and a woman to "gender swap," simulate the feeling of decapitation by guillotine and play Pokémon through the eyes of a Pokémon trainer.

"Facebook understands the potential for VR," the Oculus team wrote in a blog post announcing the deal. "Mark and his team share our vision for virtual reality’s potential to transform the way we learn, share, play, and communicate."

"Facebook is a company that believes that anything is possible with the right group of people, and we couldn’t agree more," the Oculus team added.

The purchase comes only a little over a month after Facebook acquired the mobile instant messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion. The company also has purchased Little Eye Labs, a tool to help developers measure app performance, and Branch, a conversation and link sharing service, in 2014.

Here's Zuckerberg's entire statement, published in a Facebook post:

I'm excited to announce that we've agreed to acquire Oculus VR, the leader in virtual reality technology.

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we're in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.

This is where Oculus comes in. They build virtual reality technology, like the Oculus Rift headset. When you put it on, you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scene or a place far away. The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you're actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it's different from anything they've ever experienced in their lives.

Oculus's mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences.

Immersive gaming will be the first, and Oculus already has big plans here that won't be changing and we hope to accelerate. The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there's a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform. We're going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games. Oculus will continue operating independently within Facebook to achieve this.

But this is just the start. After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home.

This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.

These are just some of the potential uses. By working with developers and partners across the industry, together we can build many more. One day, we believe this kind of immersive, augmented reality will become a part of daily life for billions of people.

Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together. I can't wait to start working with the whole team at Oculus to bring this future to the world, and to unlock new worlds for all of us.

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