Ever since 1960s, the technology of Virtual reality has been evolving. First headsets were heavy and often caused headaches. Due to their high price, most of it found use in governmental training facilities or in amusement parks, but hardly among general public. The idea, however, lived and as we managed to make components smaller and graphics better, a whole new level of visual experiences suddenly became available.
Andreessen and Dixon traveled to Oculus’s headquarters, in Irvine, California, where Iribe and Luckey showed off a version of the Rift that is similar to the one that is about to go on sale. You realize, Wow, this is it,” Dixon says. You feel like you’ve teleported.” They oculus rift vr headset began hammering out the terms of a $75 million deal. Andreessen, who is also a Facebook board member, had previously been skeptical of funding a virtual-reality company; now he was so hot for the deal that he suggested Iribe talk to Mark Zuckerberg, as a reference.
When Iribe said, Yeah, it’s pretty much just about gaming, at least for now, Zuckerberg seemed to lose interest. Facebook was not a video-game company and over the years had moved to make games a smaller part of what users saw when they logged on. But a few weeks after the Andreessen investment closed, Iribe wrote Zuckerberg an e-mail suggesting that the Facebook founder see Luckey’s headset for himself.
Iribe met with Zuckerberg for brunch on the patio at Zuckerberg’s Palo Alto home on a Sunday, in March. They ordered pizza, and Zuckerberg made a new offer: more than $2 billion in cash and stock. It was rich, considering that Oculus had not yet released a consumer product. Zuckerberg promised that Oculus would operate independently within Facebook, just as Instagram did and WhatsApp would. There would be games, sure, but eventually much more: news, sports, movies and TV, cat videos—everything. I want to do this, and I want this to be the future of Facebook, long-term,” Zuckerberg said, but Iribe would have to act quickly and promise not to shop the deal.
Oculus, by this point, had a board of directors that included four venture capitalists, one of whom was Andreessen. The board would have to approve the deal. Andreessen hated the idea of selling so quickly, without talking to Facebook’s competitors. Don’t do this! Don’t do this! Don’t do this!” Iribe recalls Andreessen saying during a late-night meeting at his house after Zuckerberg’s initial offer. (In light of his role on Facebook’s board, Andreessen recused himself after Oculus’s founders began negotiations with Zuckerberg in earnest.) But the board approved the deal.
Virtual-reality proponents dismiss these fears. I’ve watched more V.R. than most people, and I don’t feel like I have brain damage,” says Chris Milk, a former music-video director whose company produces and distributes short, 360-degree movies watched on a headset. Milk believes that whatever health risks the Rift and its competitors might pose will be vastly outweighed by the opportunities for artistry and empathy. When you let someone try virtual reality for the first time, it’s a transformative experience,” he says.