Facebook to acquire virtual reality firm for $2bn

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Facebook is buying Oculus VR, a virtual reality glass maker, for $2 billion.

The deal, which is expected to be completed in the second quarter, will include $400 million in cash as well as 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock.

As Facebook’s first hardware deal in the wearable devices arena, the acquisition marks a big bet by the social media giant on the next shift in the ever-changing technology industry.

Most people in the industry consider wearable devices to be the next big platform shift. Last week, Google, which has been testing Google Glass for years, unveiled its effort to develop computerised wristwatches.

Meanwhile, Facebook noted that virtual reality could become the next social and communications platform.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, said: “Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow.”

“Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever and change the way we work, play and communicate.”

Founded by Palmer Luckey, Oculus VR started as a Kickstarter-funded program that drew small investments from thousands of supporters.

Its virtual reality glasses “Oculus Rift” quickly attracted attention after being demonstrated at various gaming and tech conventions across the country. In December, it raised $75 million to market its virtual reality headsets for video games and develop products for use in other areas such as education, architecture, film and design.

The virtual reality firm plans to produce commercial versions of the Oculus Rift and hopes to take the technology beyond gaming.

It will maintain its headquarters in Irvine, California.