Yesterday Oculus revealed that the company raised an additional $75 million in VC funding. The latest prototype of the Oculus Rift will be revealed next month at CES 2014.
Series B Funding Brings Oculus to More than $100 Million in Venture Capital
In a post on their official blog, Oculus writes:
Today, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve closed a $75MM Series B investment led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). A16z shares our passion and vision for the future of virtual reality and is one of the best venture capital firms in the world, guiding transformative technology companies like Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Skype and GitHub. a16z joins Spark Capital, Matrix Partners, Formation 8 and Founders Fund, which have all invested additional capital.
After demoing the latest internal prototype to Horowitz, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe told The Verge, “I looked at him and said, what do you think? Are you ready to change the world? And he said ‘absolutely, let’s do it’. It was pretty much unanimous, right then and there.”
This $75 million comes in addition to $16 million in Series A funding raised back in June. Now with more than $100 million in funding, Oculus says that the new capital will go toward “investing heavily in future R&D, expanding our hardware manufacturing and distribution operations, developing the world’s premier VR platform, and recruiting more competitively than ever before. It also means we’re designing and publishing more incredible VR content—the types of games, applications and experiences that will define the platform.”
The latter part of that quote piqued our curiosity. Oculus says they’re designing and publishing “more incredible VR content,” but to date the company has not released any first-party VR experiences (excluding the Oculus Tuscany demo). In the past, Oculus has said that they’d focus on what they do best—hardware—and let game developers work on the content. But now, with new cash and some 70 employees (including 8 PhDs), it would seem that Oculus will be focusing on all aspects of the VR experience.
In the post, Oculus also notes that they’ve “seen over 40,000 developers and enthusiasts join the cause and build innovative content that’s captured the imaginations of people everywhere,” which is presumably the number of developer kits (DK1) sold thus far—the latest official confirmation we’ve seen of that elusive figure. Oculus plans to release a second Rift developer kit (DK2) in 2014, before the consumer Oculus Rift ships.
Developers Wowed by the Latest Oculus Rift Prototype
Horowitz wasn’t the only one to get his head in Oculus’ latest virtual reality equipment. The company has demoed the prototype to developers like Cliff Bleszinski (formerly Epic Games), Brian Fargo (inXile Entertainment), and Mark Rein (Epic Games), who seemed suitably impressed with what they saw:
Just visited Oculus and what I saw there… Wow. Just wow.
— Cliff Bleszinski (@therealcliffyb) December 11, 2013
I witnessed the future of the next generation @oculus yesterday and it’s powerful. I’m a believer.
— Brian Fargo (@BrianFargo) December 6, 2013
Visiting friends @oculus today. Experienced some really amazing stuff here. Mind blown! pic.twitter.com/pkGG0GqVcs
— Mark Rein (@MarkRein) December 3, 2013
Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe told The Verge that “A few hundred people have tried this latest experience, and everyone is coming out of it saying ‘Wow, you did it’.”
Oculus Rift Prototype With Positional Tracking Reveal Next Month at CES 2014
According to The Verge, Oculus will be showing a prototype Rift at CES 2014 which will largely solve VR motion sickness that some people are prone to.
“[Full positional tracking is] one of the things that’s really going to help with the motion sickness,” Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey told The Verge. “Right now we’re basically faking head translation… it only really works if you sit in a chair, hold your back completely still, and just move your neck around.” The current developer kit (DK1) only tracks rotational movement of the head. Positional tracking will detect translational movement through space (up/down/left/right), meaning that when you kneel down in the real world the position of your head will be accurately reflected in the virtual world. “You never have a mismatch between what you’re doing in real life and what our sensors think you’re doing,” said Luckey.
Valve will also be showing a prototype VR system in January. At Steam Developer Days in mid-January, the company will be showing a VR HMD that is “capable of stunning experiences”, and host a discussion on forthcoming changes to the Steam game distribution platform that will “support and promote virtual reality games.” Oculus Rift inventor Palmer Luckey will also take to the stage to speak about best practices for VR developers.
Talking to The Verge, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe seems to be tempering future comparisons between the Oculus prototype and the Valve prototype. “Unlike us, where we have to ship a product, Valve has been able to focus on pure R&D, how good the experience can be,” Iribe said.