Facebook bought Oculus, virtual reality headset for gaming that began as a campaign on Kickstarter, and I think most reactions are being projected in the wrong direction. Facebook is clearly building a network of companies through the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, both of which seem to be siloed off from each other. No Facebook login or any cross-product sharing is required to use any product, and I think it’s reasonable to assume that this will hold true for the foreseeable future – Zuckerberg is nothing if not a student of tech industry history, trying to keep his company relevant before social networking fades away. In other words, Mark knows it’d be suicide to slap Like buttons and sharing features all over Oculus. Though, all of that still won’t keep the gaming community from shaming Facebook further.
My best guess to the Notch mentality regarding the Facebook acquisition is mostly contributed to the fact that he backed a successful Kickstarter campaign which sold out. It’s easy to see how a campaign backer might feel some level of ownership to the project that they helped get started. Notch contributed tens of thousands of dollars to help bootstrap the creators of the Oculus Rift so they could remain independent. Technically, however, any contribution to a Kickstarter campaign is not considered an investment – it’s a donation with, in most cases, a gift in return. In that regard, Oculus Rift delivered exactly what was promised. Anything beyond that is independent decision made by Oculus. A Kickstarter was never meant to be a commitment to stay independent – for entrepreneurs, it’s an alternative to angel investing without giving away any part of their company.
If there’s anyone to fault in all of this, it’s the discontented Kickstarter backers that did not realize what a Kickstart campaign is meant to accomplish and the creators of Oculus that made the decision to seek an acquisition, but not Facebook. Facebook has given Kickstarter a more secure future with financial stability and room to grow independent of Facebook’s other products.
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