Oculus announced its first round of funding today, wherein the company secured $16 million from investors specifically aimed at putting the Oculus Rift in consumer hands. The nascent virtual reality hardware company has repeatedly said its end goal with the Rift is to make it a consumer product; currently, only folks who backed the Rift on Kickstarter and those willing to spend $300 on a developer kit have access. A handful of games support the Rift, though more and more developers are promising not just support in their games, but entire games built from the ground up with VR in mind. An HD version of the headset was also introduced at last week's E3 gaming show.
Oculus' new business partners apparently see enough financial potential in the Rift to not only invest heavily, but to also take on board positions -- both Santo Politi of Spark Capital and Antonio Rodriguez of Matrix Partners are now on the Oculus board of directors. "What Palmer, Brendan and the 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," Rodriguez said of today's news.
The company launched last year with a Kickstarter campaign targeting $250,000 -- the project eventually raised just shy of $2.5 million, and now sells its Rift dev kit outside of the Kickstarter campaign.
Oculus VR Closes $16M Series A to Bring Consumer Virtual Reality Platform to Market
Spark Capital and Matrix Partners Lead Round to Fuel Oculus VR's Next Phase of Growth
IRVINE, CALIFORNIA (June 19, 2013) – Oculus VR, Inc., developer of the highly anticipated Oculus Rift, today announced that it has closed $16 million in Series A funding. The round was co-led by Spark Capital and Matrix Partners. Santo Politi, founder and general partner at Spark, and Antonio Rodriguez, serial entrepreneur and general partner at Matrix, have joined the company's board of directors. Founders Fund as well as Formation 8 also participated in the round. The funds will be used to accelerate the development of virtual reality hardware, software and services, ultimately creating a full virtual reality platform for consumers.
"Oculus began with a single mission: to put players inside the game," said Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus VR and inventor of the Oculus Rift. "This investment allows us to deliver immersive and affordable virtual reality to players everywhere."
The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset that provides an immersive, stereoscopic 3D experience with a huge field of view-110 degrees diagonally-and that overcomes latency challenges. A prototype of the Oculus Rift first appeared at E3 2012, immediately earning praise from the industry. Just one year later, Oculus has manufactured and successfully shipped the Rift development kits purchased in its Kickstarter campaign, allowing game developers across the globe to create Oculus-ready applications and interactive content.
"With the recent console announcements and the advent of stronger mobile technology, we're watching the video game industry keenly," said Mr. Politi. "In our estimation, Oculus 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."
"In this business, there are only a few rare companies that can so perfectly embody the future you read about in science fiction novels," said Mr. Rodriguez. "What Palmer, Brendan and the team are building at Oculus so closely matches the Metaverse, we had to be part of it. Working with them to get this platform to market at scale will be enormously exciting."
Founded in 2005, Spark Capital's track record of backing extraordinary, forward-thinking ventures, including Twitter and Tumblr, has served as a barometer for innovation in the tech industry. Matrix Partners' achievements span decades and include early investments in some of the world's most successful technology companies, such as Apple, SanDisk and many others.
"What better way to mark our first anniversary than to announce our next phase of growth," said Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus VR. "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."
Oculus VR previously raised over $2.4 million through its Kickstarter campaign – almost 10 times its fundraising goal – and developers are actively supporting the headset. No release date has been set for commercial release. To stay updated on Oculus' progress, please visit www.oculusvr.com.
About Matrix Partners
Matrix Partners is a premier venture capital firm that has generated outstanding returns for more than three decades. By focusing on early-stage investments and emphasizing long-term relationships with entrepreneurs, the firm has delivered several of the industry's top performing funds of all time. Matrix Partners has offices in Cambridge and Waltham, MA; Palo Alto, CA; Mumbai, India; and Beijing and Shanghai, China. Matrix Partners has invested in several game-changing, industry-leading businesses such as Apple Computer, Aruba, HubSpot, JBoss, Netezza, Phone.com, Polyvore, Starent Networks, Tivoli Systems, Veritas, Zendesk, and Zong. www.matrixpartners.com
About Spark Capital
Founded in 2005, Spark Capital is a tight-knit group of partners managing approximately $1.5 billion across four funds. Spark invests across a number of key market segments including: advertising & monetization, commerce & services, cloud & infrastructure, social, mobile and content. Spark's portfolio includes companies such as Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, AdMeld, OMGPOP, ThePlatform and 5Min. The Spark team has previously backed notable companies such as Akamai Technologies, Qtera, Aether Systems and Novatel Wireless. www.sparkcapital.com
About Oculus VR, Inc.
Oculus VR, Inc. is revolutionizing the way people experience video games. The company's first product, the highly anticipated Oculus Rift, is a virtual reality headset that allows players to step inside the game. It provides an immersive, stereoscopic 3D experience with an ultra-wide field of view and super low latency head tracking. For more information, visit: www.oculusvr.com