Wearable Tech World Feature Article
June 18, 2013

Originally Funded via Kickstarter, Oculus VR Closes New Funding of $16M to Propel Rift Headset Development

Oculus VR, the hot developer of the highly anticipated Oculus Rift, is yet another child of Kickstarter. As has a rapidly growing collection of other tech and non-tech companies, Oculus got its start by taking the online funding route, which was good enough to deliver enough dollars - $2.44 million – to easily bootstrap its beginnings. The company had originally looked to pull in a mere $250,000 but there were 9,522 virtual and augmented reality fanatics out there who caught on quickly to what Oculus could deliver. So, they were graced with a significant number of dollars to get Oculus moving forward, and the company has certainly done exactly that.

Having now moved well beyond the realm of possibly being funded on Kickstarter into the realm of legitimate funded startup with a very legitimate product, it is certainly no surprise that Oculus has been on the radar of the professional investment community. The radar has now been locked in and Oculus is about to move into an entirely new realm of well-funded possibilities.

Today the company announced that is has closed a substantial $16 million in Series A funding. This is great news not only for the original Kickstarter investors that have been looking for Oculus to deliver a real product, but for all AR and VR mavens. The Kickstarter investors still have the only real access to the technology and the Rift SDK –key reasons for their original investments.

The new round was co-led by Spark Capital and Matrix Partners, who were joined in the round by Founders Fund as well as Formation 8. The new dollars will be used to accelerate the development of the company’s virtual reality hardware, software and services. Beyond those initial investors, Oculus will now be well positioned to expand its team and to deliver its full virtual reality platform across an entire spectrum of consumers.

Palmer Luckey, Oculus VR’s founder and the inventor of the Oculus Rift notes, "Oculus began with a single mission: to put players inside the game. This new investment allows us to deliver immersive and affordable virtual reality to players everywhere."

Santo Politi, founder and general partner at Spark – which has also invested in Twitter and Tumblr – and Antonio Rodriguez, a serial entrepreneur and general partner at Matrix – which has invested in Apple, SanDisk and many others – will be joining the company's board of directors.

Politi underscores that, "With recent console announcements and the advent of stronger mobile technology we've been watching the video game industry keenly. Oculus, in our estimation, is one of the only companies in the space with something completely new and disruptive. They have the right team, capital and vision to take virtual reality beyond console gaming and into everyday computing."

Rodriguez adds, "In this business there are only a few rare companies that can so perfectly embody the future you read about in science fiction novels. What Palmer, Brendan and their team are building at Oculus so closely matches the Metaverse that we had to be part of it. Working with them to get this platform to market at scale will be enormously exciting."

What is interesting about both comments noted above is the underlying theme of the Oculus Rift not only being a powerful gaming tool but a device with a far greater potential beyond gaming. The Oculus Rift delivers a truly immersive, stereoscopic 3D experience that offers a huge field of view, measuring 110 inches diagonally, which, perhaps more importantly, also overcomes critical latency challenges. Think of your standard 55 inch TV screen and double it – that is your new Oculus Rift view! We’ll leave it to your imagination to think about the possibilities beyond gaming.

A prototype of the Oculus Rift first appeared at E3 2012 and caused a large positive ruckus. Since then, Oculus has managed to ship Rift development kits purchased through the Kickstarter campaign. This gives those early investors exactly what they wanted – the ability to be first in line to create Oculus-ready applications and interactive content. At the just completed E3 2013, the company demonstrated a new high definition version of the Rift – with that 110 inch view.

High definition truly changes the user’s perspective. Even if you are used to relatively fine detail when viewing a game on your HD monitor or monitors, the level of detail you will be able to see through the Oculus will be…well, a game changer. Reality itself may indeed be altered.

Brendan Iribe, Oculus VR’s CEO adds, "What better way to mark our first anniversary than to announce our next phase of growth. There are still many challenging problems to solve, but with the support of these great investment partners, and our passionate community, we will continue to hire the brightest minds and stay laser focused on delivering the very best virtual reality platform possible."

Meanwhile, we ourselves are hoping to get Oculus to participate in our upcoming Wearable Technology Expo and Conference - being held in New York City July 24 and 25, 2013 - as part of our Augmented Reality panel discussion. We’re hoping! At least now we know they have the dollars to get to New York.

While we work on their conference participation, here’s a good overview on the Oculus Rift straight from the gang at Oculus.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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