The “good” and “evil” sides of the tech world clashed this week, with the clean-shaven, youthful and extremely popular makers of the Oculus Rift VR headset agreeing to be purchased by the evil, goatee-bearded, dark forces of the hated Facebook mega-empire.
Many toys were thrown out of prams and as we see every week, there’s always one joke everyone furiously types out and thinks they’re the first with.
This week, it was something along the lines of “FarmVille in 3D! LOL!” that everyone raced to wryly observe first. Plus the fact that legendary PC coder and unmitigated brainbox John Carmack is now a humble Facebook employee caused many simple people some low levels of mirth.
These jokes were even funnier when they were repeated the next day, becoming funnier still by the third day.
But mostly there was anger. Anger about Kickstarter being used to kickstart a $2bn business, anger at Facebook chucking its money around again and anger that the promising VR tech may eventually be used as little more than a new way to get your mum to click on adverts for discounted last-minute cruises around the Norwegian fjords.
Worst thing ever, for the next 18 hours at least
Those writing beneath a Valleywag piece suggested Facebook was the “worst possible partner” for the VR firm, fury was vented by those who saw Oculus using Kickstarter as a method of not only building a project, but building a company worth $2bn in a couple of years.
This was accurately nutshelled by commenter I’m Here Mostly for the Chicks, who said: “At this point it’s safe to assume Kickstarter in its entirety is for suckers. Maybe the first few months it was a good outlet for homebrew ideas, but all you’re doing now is subsidising corporations so they don’t have to take risks.”
Reader Greensky was a little more generous about his criticism of the deal, suggesting: “Kickstarter has led people to believe that they’re investing in an independent company. That their contributions are vital in allowing them to get off the ground and to forge their own way. Oculus proves that there can also be Kickstarters whose sole goal is to become popular enough to sell. Which isn’t wrong per se, but it’s also not the nice heart-warming underdog story that most Kickstarters use to get more backers.”
Imagine a screen strapped to a human face – forever
On a more aggressively negative vibe was Economist reader Guest Sensation, who said: “The very last thing humanity needs is a life sucking screen strapped to its face. What a shame people are embracing this technological ‘advancement’. Bye bye family time, hello 3D porn, virtual worlds to waste your life in, and mass media control. Disgusting.”
There’s 3D porn? *Writes cheque for $2.5bn, phones bank to arrange overdraft facility*
This is all a sign that Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has gone bonkers and is currently on a cash-fuelled spree he’ll eventually come to regret, according to Pondbridge72, who raged: “Paying twice the market price for Instagram and then WhatsApp was one thing. But this latest digression into geek hardware while alienating the very gamers necessary for Oculus to succeed is ham-fisted at best. Florid 5 and 10 year visions disguise an I-know-better-than-the-market intellectual arrogance and inability/unwillingness to take counsel from others.”
Just looked up what “florid” means. It’s a real word. It means “excessively intricate or elaborate.” Nice one, Pondbridge, teaching people about online fury and English at the same time.
STR agreed and was baffled by the decision, eventually concluding: “This is a case study in why no investor should trust their money with a company who has a 29 year old with sole majority control.”
Billions of ideas
But not everyone’s entirely negative about the sale. $2bn is a lot of money, and Register reader Stu is fantasising about how it might be spent by the newly loaded Oculus team, dreaming: “Well I’ve pre-ordered DK2, and am thinking of cancelling, but I’m coming to realise that Facebook have injected a serious cash flow into Oculus, hence would have a lot more clout in the HW market to demand the screens and other tech they want – specifically it would benefit from curved OLED, ultra resolution, very low latency, and very low persistence.”
Stu then suggests creating a throwaway Facebook profile to use solely for Oculus (and perhaps Tinder at the weekends), although he adds: “Adverts, well if that happens then I’m out!”
Beneath a Guardian piece entirely structured around how bad an idea it all seems, comment turned to whether or not Kickstarter backers ought to get a cut of the $2bn, seeing as they are, in some small way, the original venture capitalists that set Oculus on its way to financial stardom.
Reader Unpleasantmilk contributed the observation that: “People put money into it, to help the company build. Now that company has been sold for billions, why shouldn’t those who helped make it so, profit? This leaves a bad taste, but that is no surprise if *uckerburg is involved.”
And ChrisKS wasn’t happy with Oculus either, raging: “Oculus did exactly the opposite of what Kickstarter is used for, and didn’t actually do what their stated aims were. Look at their Kickstarter campaign and you’ll see that the support was generated by promises of open-sourcing and prototypes being built to facilitate/accelerate games development.”
“It was NOT supposed to be their engine for personal enrichment, but that’s what they used all that money for,” he finished with, probably hitting the keyboard really hard and with a satisfied flourish on that final full stop.
Finally, Facebook’s flaw of letting the most thumbed-up comments float up to the top of response threads meant Zuckerberg’s own announcement of the Oculus deal was instantly hammered by negativity, with Dave Woodruff rising to internet fame with his 1,000+ liked satirical comment: “I’m excited to announce we can’t innovate but we can buy other companies.”
- Check out more Inflame – cutting comments from beneath the fold