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商业 - 科技

为什么Oculus值20亿美元:它可能替代电脑显示器

Erin Griffith 2014年03月28日

Facebook刚刚斥资20亿美元收购了虚拟现实头戴游戏设备Oculus Rift的制造商Oculus VR公司,同时将维持后者独立运营的现状。扎克伯格为什么要收购这家公司。因为他将头戴游戏设备视为一种“新型通信平台”。换句话说,大家将来可能会淘汰显示器,戴上Oculus Facebook眼镜。

    Facebook的交易正在成为传奇。过去几个月,马克•扎克伯格刚刚斥资190亿美元收购了一款通信应用,又有报道称他正计划以6,000万美元收购一家无人机公司。3月26日,他宣布了Facebook最新的惊人之举:20亿美元收购虚拟现实头戴游戏设备Oculus Rift的制造商Oculus VR。

    这是Facebook第三次用十亿美元以上的代价收购一家收入很少、甚至没有任何收入的公司,同时计划维持公司的独立运营。(Oculus已经卖出了75,000套预定开发包,约获得2,600万美元收入。)

    Facebook称,它将支付4亿美元现金,以及价值16亿美元的2,310万股Facebook普通股。此外,这笔交易包括3亿美元的盈利能力条款,实现特定目标可获得现金和股份。Oculus在众筹网站Kickstarter上开始创业,后来从星火资本(Spark Capital)、经纬创投(Matrix Partners)、创始人基金(Founders Fund)、Formation 8、BIG Ventures 和安德森•霍洛维茨(Andreessen Horowitz)获得共计9,340万美元风险投资。

    那么,Facebook为什么收购Oculus?它是Facebook应对谷歌眼镜(Google Glass)的答案吗?是该社交网络为了给自己注入创新元素所进行的一次孤注一掷的尝试吗?还是Oculus VR传奇CTO约翰•卡马克的一次玩世不恭的游戏?Facebook是否希望借此填补由Zynga造成的游戏收入缺口?

    根据扎克伯格在Facebook发布的信息来看,他将Oculus Rift视为一种通信平台。Oculus公司及其75名员工将保持独立,继续开发虚拟现实游戏平台。(这也是Facebook第三次偏离自己的人才收购策略,即彻底关闭收购的公司——另外两个案例分别是Instagram和WhatsApp。)不过,Facebook对于Oculus的野心可不止在游戏领域:

    除了游戏之外,我们将把Oculus打造成提供其他体验的平台。想象一下,只要坐在家里的带上虚拟现实眼镜,便可以像在现场一样享受比赛,可以与来自世界各地的同学和老师在一个教室里学习,或者可以面对面咨询医生。

    Oculus团队在公司的博客中响应了扎克伯格的观点:

    最初,人们可能很难理解Oculus为什么会与Facebook合作,因为Facebook一直致力于人与人之间的联系,投资互联网连接和推动开放计算平台。但仔细想想,你会发现,两家公司在文化上是一致的,我们都致力于创新和招募最优秀的人才;我们相信沟通能够推动新平台的出现;我们希望为更开放的互联世界做出贡献;我们都认为虚拟现实将是下一个平台。

    Oculus 公司CEO布兰登•艾瑞布在讨论这宗交易的电话会议上表示,公司已经解决了围绕游戏和娱乐的“许多难题”,所以通过虚拟现实实现社交体验的潜力已经显而易见。

    艾瑞布说:“有些东西将会彻底改变,如果你能看到其他人,真正地看着他们,而且你的大脑相信他们就在你面前,而不是坐在屏幕前面,你就会意识到它的前景是多么广阔……你会浑身起鸡皮疙瘩。你将看到它巨大的潜力,它的社交性,以及它对其他行业的影响。”

    Facebook的股票在盘后交易中小幅下跌了0.88%。

    经纬创投投资人安东尼奥•罗德里格斯(同时也是Oculus Rift的早期投资人)注意到,扎克伯格认为计算领域的下一步将是使用虚拟现实,支持这种观点的大有人在。他说:“有了增强现实技术,比如谷歌眼镜等设备,我们已经获得了初步发展。但许多非游戏应用都仅限于智能手机。”

    罗德里格斯补充说:“五年以后,如果大家不再使用显示器,而是戴着一副Oculus Facebook眼镜,我绝不会有什么大惊小怪的。”(财富中文网)

    译者:刘进龙/汪皓

    

    Facebook's deals are becoming the stuff of legend. In the last few months alone, Mark Zuckerberg has spent $19 billion on a messaging app, and reports say he's paying $60 million for a drone company. Today he announced Facebook's latest head-scratcher: $2 billion for Oculus VR, the maker a virtual reality gaming headset called Oculus Rift.

    It marks the third time Facebook has paid a billion dollars or more for a company with little to no revenue, with plans for it to operate independently. (Oculus has sold 75,000 pre-orders for development kits, which cost $350, giving it approximately $26 million in income.)

    Facebook (FB) will pay $400 million in cash, with 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock valued at $1.6 billion, the company said. In addition, the deal includes a $300 million earn-out in cash and stock. Oculus got its start on Kickstarter, but went on to raise $93.4 million in venture funding from Spark Capital, Matrix Partners, Founders Fund, Formation 8, BIG Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.

    So: Why? Is Oculus Facebook's answer to Google Glass? Is it the social network's desperate attempt to inject itself with fresh innovation? Is it a cynical play for Oculus VR's legendary CTO, John Carmack? Does Facebook want to fill a Zynga-shaped hole in its games-related revenue?

    According to a Facebook post from Zuckerberg, he views Oculus Rift as a communication platform. The company and its 75 employees will operate independently from Facebook and continue its path of developing a platform for virtual reality games. (This, by the way, marks the third time Facebook has veered from its acqui-hire strategy of shutting down the companies it acquires -- the other two are Instagram and WhatsApp.) But Facebook's vision for Oculus is much bigger than games:

    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.

    The team at Oculus echoed Zuckerberg's sentiment in their own blog post:

    At first glance, it might not seem obvious why Oculus is partnering with Facebook, a company focused on connecting people, investing in internet access for the world and pushing an open computing platform. But when you consider it more carefully, we're culturally aligned with a focus on innovating and hiring the best and brightest; we believe communication drives new platforms; we want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step.

    On a conference call discussing the deal, Oculus CEO Brendan Aribe said that as company solved "a lot of the hard problems," around gaming and entertainment, the potential for a social experience through virtual reality became really obvious.

    "Something fundamentally changes and you start to realize how big this could be if you can see someone else, and you can actually look at them and your brain believes they're right in front of you, not through a screen ... "You get the goosebumps. You see how big this could be, and how social it is, and the impact it could have on other industries," Aribe said.

    Shares of Facebook were slightly down by 0.88% in after hours trading.

    Antonio Rodriguez, an investor with Matrix Partners (and early investor in Oculus Rift), noted that Zuckerberg isn't alone in his thinking that the next major step in computing will use virtual reality. "We've had a short hop through augmented reality, with things like Google Glass," he said. "But a lot of non-gaming use cases are tethered to the smartphone."

    Rodriguez added, "I would not be surprised if, in five years from now, instead of a monitor on that desk, you have a pair of Oculus Facebook googles."

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