I know we haven't really talked about the Oculus Rift much, but better late than never, right? Oculus VR, the virtual-reality goggle maker, has raised another $75 million of funding for their gadget that was announced at CES 2012, Oculus Rift. Netscape founder Marc Andreessen's investment group was the majority backer in the round. Other players in the funding were Spark Capital, Matrix Partners and Formation 8, who were all in on the $16 million fundraising session in June.
Sources are reporting valuation of Oculus VR at $250 million so far, with this last influx of cash being the largest in the history of the company. For those unaware, Oculus Rift is a pair of goggles that links up with your controller or mouse and keyboard to truly enhance your gaming experience. In a first-person shooter, it gives you an ability to move your head and look around, while keeping your weapon pointed in a completely different direction. Some who have tried it say that it really immerses you in the experience, to the point where a roller coaster simulator program on Oculus Rift actually got one tester sick.
Originally on Kickstarter, with sets of the goggles being sent out to developers for around $300, the buzz has become pretty intense for the virtual reality gadget. And the amount of success that Oculus has experienced is something that 19-year-old founder Palmer Luckey couldn't have predicted when he presented the Rift as a duct-tape prototype.
On the $75 million of investment capital to the company, CEO of Oculus, Brendan Iribe, said that Andreessen Horowitz, Marc Andreessen's firm, is a perfect partner in a situation like this, especially when you have so many demands to meet.
The challenge of hardware companies is you have to be able to buy the goods. And to be able to float tens of millions of dollars when you're a startup is virtually impossible. You cant go from zero to organic launch without tens of millions of preorders, and you have to take them years ahead, so we're trying to balance that. Andreessen Horowitz has a significant staff that really engages with you and helps you solve those kinds of problems.
This will be the last round of funding for quite some time. Iribe added that, "We're certainly planning for this to be it as far as funding until the consumer version launches."
As a person who has played a round of Team Fortress 2 in a custom lobby optimized for Oculus Rift, I'm really excited to see the product progress so quickly and head to production beyond just dev kits. There's still a few details to iron out before it hits the manufacturing plant but Oculus is looking to launch the Rift by holiday of 2014. Check out the link below for a full interview with Brendan Iribe.