Facebook has officially entered every realm of our lives, as if the company has not done that already. By announcing its plan to acquire Oculus VR, the company responsible for the
Oculus Rift, Zuckerberg's now entered not only our reality but our virtual reality. And he's done it for a mere $2 billion in cash and stock. $400 million of the total purchase will come in cash, along with 23.1 million Facebook shares. Another $300 million will be handed out in both stock and cash if Oculus hits undisclosed benchmarks and goals that Facebook set forth.
Zuckerberg made the announcement this week in a conference call, followed by a post
on his Facebook page, naturally. No word on if he has to pay to promote his posts.
I'm excited to announce that we've agreed to acquire Oculus VR, the leader in virtual reality technology.
Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. For the past few years, this has mostly meant building mobile apps that help you share with the people you care about. We have a lot more to do on mobile, but at this point we feel we're in a position where we can start focusing on what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences.
In his post, he also mentions future plans of blending your entire life together by just "putting on goggles at home" and no longer needing to leave the house to do anything. And if you really think about it, it makes a lot of sense why Facebook picked up Oculus VR. All jokes aside, people spend a lot of time on social media, be it on mobile or at a computer. Now, instead of just connecting to your favorite sites and activities in the real world, you can achieve that in the virtual world, so of course Facebook would want a huge part in your alternative virtual lifestyle as well.
Now what does this mean for Oculus? Well, according to the company's
blog post on the acquisition, Facebook has been talking with the crew at Oculus for a few months now. With 75,000 development kits already ordered and popularity reaching a national level, great things have come to the company in the past 18 months. Oculus seems to be riding the wave of success with such a large acquisition and with that, the virtual reality start-up says it gives the developers the "best shot at truly changing the world." And, until the Facebook culture changes their mentality, I fully believe and support these values and mission.
While Oculus VR and Facebook are extremely happy about this, obviously there are some not-so-happy campers related to the news. Specifically, Kickstarter backers of Oculus VR and the Rift who are now demanding their money back because they don't support Facebook. Now that Oculus VR has
"gone corporate", many backers feel that they're owed something. Funny enough, some even thought that they were backing a "hobby and (someone who) just wanted to do something fun for the community." Sure you were.
So they've taken to the streets of social media, including Facebook, to voice their concerns. However if you're keen on the rules of crowd-funding, Kickstarter donors do not get any special returns in cases of a buyout or some type of major investment funding and they surely do not have a say in the financial or operational ends of the company's business. At any rate, Oculus VR was able to gain $2.4 million in donations from over 9,500 different people and over $90 million in venture capital funding in under 24 months. That is one of the reasons the group was able to pick up a $2 billion valuation from Facebook.
Of course there are some defending Kickstarter backers as well, and they've also
voiced their concerns in several outlets, saying that the company will now have more means to produce the great product that everyone has supported up until now. A lot of people agree with that sentiment, however fear that something like a very annoying Facebook logo with irrelevant ads will show up in their virtual view.
Things like that are what scared Minecraft founder Notch from
continuing to work on a version of Minecraft to Oculus. He quickly took to Twitter to say that,
We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.
At any rate, all of this is still very new and a lot of dust will have to settle to see if Oculus VR will remain true to its initial vision: to actually change the world through virtual reality. Until then, we await the
approval of the $2 billion acquisition and hope that people don't lose faith just yet in a pretty great product. If that happens, however, it might play perfectly into Sony's hands, which are currently juggling money and staff problems in one hand and VR competitor Project Morpheus on the other.
If you've been keeping up with Sony news, you'd know the company has been in trouble for a while. With key exec layoffs in the media division that led to a
quarter-million dollar budget cut and a layoff of over 200 employees shortly after, more bad news continues to plague the tech giant. Following a prediction of a $1.1 billion loss for Sony, CFO Masaru Kato will be leaving the company effective April 1.
Announced by CEO Kaz Hirai as a planned transition, Kenichiro Yoshida will be taking over the position on that date. Yoshida has had plenty of experience working in different positions with Sony since starting with the company back in 1983, and he's also been the deputy CFO since early December, so the transition should be a natural one for him.
On the news, Sony spokeswoman Yo Kikuchi said, "After discussing the matter over the last four months, we decided it would be appropriate to appoint Yoshida at the beginning of the new financial year."
For Kato, while he will be leaving the CFO role, he will also drop his executive VP title as well. However, he will stay on with Sony as a director and will become a vice chairman on the board.
Cost-cutting measures will continue for Sony, with the company also selling a large property next to its HQ to a real estate company for just over $68 million. Hirai also mentioned other cuts that will be happening in the next quarter but did not disclose what they were. There's not much meat left on the Sony steak, though, so it will be an interesting ride over the next year to see where Sony cuts next.
In 2008, a company with a mission to measure social engagement and influence came together to form Klout. This week it was announced that the increasingly-popular tool had been acquired by Lithium Technologies.
In a stock deal rumored to be close to $200 million, Klout's CEO Joe Fernandez will enter the Lithium team as a senior vice president and manager of Klout. In turn, Lithium purchased the measuring software to enhance its own services. For those unaware, Lithium is an all-encompassing CRM and social platform that ties in engagement, sales, customer retention and loyalty, branding, SEO and crowd-sourcing all in one place. Think Salesforce.com or Jive Software, but with an increased focus on usability and genuine customers. It's an interesting platform for sure, and one that I've not had too much familiarity with, however companies like Virgin Atlantic and Barclay's have both seen dramatic results from using the service.
announcement of the news, Lithium's president and CEO Rob Tarkoff explained how everything would come together.
(The acquisition) brings together the 100 million consumers who engage across Lithium communities every month with the 500 million consumers touched by Klout to establish one of the biggest data footprints of consumer attitudes, preferences and activities. Lithium and Klout both have deep expertise and capabilities in driving engagement - combined, our ability to put trust back at the center of the relationship between consumers and brands is unmatched. The new Lithium brings together trusted people and trusted content to create an exchange of shared value and a more complete measure of reputation. Most importantly - and what really fires me up - is that this acquisition helps Lithium put the power back into consumers' hands in a real way that delivers real benefits to consumers as well as brands. The conversation between consumers and brands should be just that: a conversation, not a shout by brands at consumers. That's the promise the new Lithium will deliver on.
So it seems like Lithium is wanting to bring a sense of realness to its service and by using Klout's highly-touted measurement system, it could probably do just that, as Klout is kind of a crucial link between a consumer and a company. Lithium did say there would be more to discuss on the Klout acquisition at its
LiNC 2014 conference.
For Klout, the team says that its "mission has not changed" and Klout will "continue helping people be great online."
You will still be able to get insights about your social media performance, find new content to share, and be rewarded with Perks on both Klout.com and our mobile app.
We'll keep tabs on exactly how Klout will be implemented into Lithium's offerings. Until then, I will continue to peruse Klout to see what's going to change before and after the acquisition process.
My guess is that, if you are reading this, you are aware what operating system your phone runs. Whether you chose your phone because of the operating system and found the best manufacturer, or you chose the manufacturer and got the OS it came with, you know what you have. There are a lot of people, however, who purchase a Samsung, HTC or LG phone and don't know that it is powered by Android; mostly because those manufacturers do all they can to bury Android as deep as possible.
Google is starting to realize that their business model for Android might not have been entirely in-line with their corporate goals and are trying to change that. Starting with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8), all Android devices that will have access to the Google Play Store must boot with the "Powered by Android" branding.
Now, this is not to say that all Android-powered devices will carry this branding. In fact, many devices that run Google's open-source operating system purposely hide the Play Store, such as Amazon's Kindle Fire line and Nokia's
new Nokia X family, both of which host their own Android app stores. You'll also see it on cheap drugstore tablets who are trying to make back the money they lose on the hardware.
Knowing Samsung's interest in running Tizen on their devices, it's possible that Google forcing the co-branding might be the push they need to abandon the platform all together. It might also help Samsung convince other manufacturers to switch to their OS. This could also be a boon for Microsoft, who have been rapidly increasing their manufacturing partner list, but haven't yet seen an increase in hardware announcements.
Do you think it is a good idea for Google to force dual-branding on Android handsets in exchange for Google Play access, or is this a move that could damage the brand even more? Sound off in the comments.
Marissa Mayer, since
taking over as CEO of Yahoo, has been working on a plan to make Yahoo into Google, but without the abandonment of its principles. When Marissa was at Google, being one of the early employees, one of her chief responsibilities was to ensure the developers didn't ruin the homepage. She was also responsible for the overall web presence of the brand, ensuring all Google properties felt like Google.
At some point, someone decided that Google didn't need to be Google anymore, and moved her away from the thing that had kept the company consistent and into other positions. It hasn't worked out the way they wanted. Since joining Yahoo she has worked to create a cohesive Yahoo that spans the Internet with relevance and content. With a
new logo, older product shut downs, remodel of Tumblr, among many other changes, Yahoo is becoming a new, successful brand.
One of the aspects of the Internet that Yahoo had managed to avoid like a drunk girl at a party is video. There were several meager attempts, but it never felt as if the company was interested in participating with the rest of the Net. Last year, Mayer began the process of fixing that, purchasing
, available now. They also purchased a Saturday Night Live rights from NBC live concert streaming service and hired broadcast news star Katie Couric to add credibility to their offerings.
What they are still sorely lacking is user-generated content. Having unsuccessfully tried to acquire Dailymotion, they are still no closer to taking on YouTube, but a YahooTube option is something that the company certainly needs if it is going to continue to compete. With Tumblr the company has text and photo (mostly), but no good platform for video.
One thing that Yahoo will need to do to succeed is to focus on what YouTube has been unable to accomplish: quality. Since being purchased by Google, YouTube's video streaming quality has taken a sharp turn downward, constantly buffering and failing to load videos, and the problem gets worse by the day. If Yahoo can create a video streaming service that actually streams videos, they will be far ahead of YouTube.
Next, they need to focus on the quality of the content. While a user-generated site will always have a little of everything, by guaranteeing that top-creators are able to generate revenue from the platform, they will create more content, therefore drowning out some of the less-desirable videos of drunk texting and high school fights. Instead, getting content like
What the Buck and the recently hiatused =3 through revenue sharing are what a YouTube competition from Yahoo must look like.
Within the software world,
One of the interesting things about Mozilla is the way people stay with the organization, even after departing the top post. In fact, Kovacs has remained on the board for the past 12 months, despite taking the top spot at AVG Technologies a year ago. Also remaining on the board post-CEO is
John Lilly, a partner at Greylock Partners. That changed this week when these two past CEOs, along with board member Ellen Siminoff, former Yahoo executive and current CEO of Shmoop, left the board together.
The resignations of three high-profile board members of a high-profile corporation at the same time would normally suggest a problem, but anonymous sources within the company did not allow speculation to build, instead stating exactly why they were leaving: Eich. The sources report that the board members left because, during the search process for a new CEO, an outside hire was sought to work with CTO Eich and Mozilla founder Mitchell Baker rather than promoting Eich to CEO.
The Board of Directors aren't the only people miffed about the promotion of Eich. Employees within the organization have begun a bit of a revolt, demanding the ouster of Eich after the discovery that Eich donated money to the Proposition 8 debacle in California, which was designed to prohibit gay marriage.
Open Badges project lead Chris McAvoy started it off, followed by Chloe Varelidi and others. Hit the break to see some of the tweets. These employees believe in a Mozilla which is open and inviting, knowing that a diverse workforce breeds better ideas. Obviously, a CEO who believes that some of the employees are inherently entitled to less than others as citizens does not breed that same atmosphere.
Followed by the employee protest comes a developer protest right on its tail. A number of developers of software for the Firefox Marketplace have pulled their products until Eich is removed from his office. Whether the board agrees with Eich's political position or not, they cannot agree with the environment that his donation has created. Either the board will get a grip on this disaster or Mozilla's dwindling supporters will continue to leave en masse. Now would be the worst time for the company to encourage its users to leave.