Tuesday was a heavy news day. Gwyneth Paltrow broke up with Chris Martin, Google flipped off Amazon by cutting its cloud platform prices, and the Kimye marriage still looked like it was going to happen.
And then, before the day was over, a news bomb went off: Facebook announced that it was acquiring Oculus, the tech startup behind the Rift virtual reality headset that spawned this beautiful Tumblr. The deal is valued around $2 billion in cash and stock, with an additional $300 million payout on the table if Oculus hits “certain unspecified milestones,” according to news site TechCrunch. That’s a significantly lower number compared to Facebook’s $19 billion major Facebook acquisition, the messaging service WhatsApp, which took place earlier this year.
Oculus is a company with a significant amount of geek cred, given its symbolic status as the edge frontier of gaming and its populist origins as a Kickstarter project. Hence, how did the Internet react? Loudly, it turned out, and quite angrily.
Here are the best responses we found from across the Internet:
The r/Oculus subreddit provided what are perhaps the most devastated responses to the deal. As The Daily Dot noted, in less than an hour after the announcement, the r/Oculus subreddit “dropped more than 100 F-bombs in roughly 600 comments discussing the news.” Notable posts include: “Not like this. Not like this.” and “I feel bad for all the Kickstarter contributors that thought they were helping a small group of people become a company. Not just waiting to be acquired.”
Sticking to the r/Oculus subreddit, a redditor posted about a month ago that his friend, who worked in the same building as Oculus, ran into Mark Zuckerberg in the elevator. After the announcement, the redditor made two additions to the post: “I told you so,” and video of a cat eating Campbell’s soup to express sympathy.
Tech news website PandoDaily published an admirably fierce opinion piece by James Robinson titled “With Oculus Purchase, Facebook chokes VR innovation in the womb.” Far from settling with a vivacious headline, Robison argued:
The creator of Minecraft, notch (or Markus Persson, if we’re being technical), very quickly took to Twitter to announce that he was canceling plans to develop an Oculus Rift version of the popular game, stating that “Facebook creeps me out.” Notch later expanded on his decision through his blog, writing
You can read notch’s full statement here.
Further fine reading can be found in the comments of Mark Zuckerberg’s own Facebook post on the matter. While a great deal of the “top comments” listed are congratulatory (it is Zuckerberg’s home ground, after all), there are some notable rumbles of dissent. Notable comments include:
And of course,
And of course, Twitter is always a great source of reaction material.
While a startling number of people are fairly disconcerted by the Oculus-Facebook deal, it should also be noted that arguments have been made in favor of Zuckerberg’s encroachment into the virtual reality space. Rami Ismail, CEO of the Dutch game company that created the recently released LUFTRAUSERS, raised the point on Twitter that this acquisition could well truly bring virtual reality into the mainstream conversation—it has, after all, sparked this entire furor on a very public level, and competitors are bound to spring out more fervently in search of acquisitions now.
That said, I’m personally a little concerned about Zuckerberg flexing his hoodie-covered in this way. Buzzfeed’s Charlie Warzel was quick to observe that the Oculus acquisition can be interpreted as Facebook’s “moon-shot”—the concept commonly associated with Google’s crazy long-term projects, like self-driving cars and that one company trying to cure death. With this move, Zuckerberg is officially joining Google in playing the truly long game; that is to say, the game of the future, the game of humanity’s future.
It appears that we’re heading steadily into a world where tech titans are literally battling over the trajectory of the human race—and though it might be crazy to state such a dramatic thing, it’s crazier that it’s officially more or less 100% accurate.