Facebook Acquires VR firm Oculus for $2B

Facebook is on an acquisition binge. This one has me scratching my head…

Oculus

Facebook has been on an acquisition binge recently. Just the other day, it announced that it would buy VR developer Oculus VR for $2.0B. A few weeks ago, it announced it was acquiring the mobile messaging application WhatsApp for $19.0B. Apparently, it has cash to burn…

The Oculus deal includes $400M in cash, and $1.6B in stock. If all goes well for Oculus, post-acquisition, its employees could receive another $300M in incentive bonuses if specific, undisclosed targets are reached. Oculus was made famous due to its crowd-funded start on Kickstarter, where it received approximately $2.4M in funding.

While it has yet to release a product, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg indicated his company’s interest and commitment in the organization by saying that, “mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow. Oculus’ technologies could “change the way we work, play and communicate.” Facebook is planning to use the acquired company and its virtual reality technology to expand its “communications, media, entertainment, education and other areas.”

While Facebook is happy with the development, the rest of the world – or at least part of it – clearly isn’t. Markus Persson, the creator of the popular block-building game, Minecraft, said he WAS in talks with Oculus to bring the two together, but has since killed the deal. According to Persson, “Facebook creeps me out.”

Other developers are taking similar actions. One developer said, “I am really upset by this. I had nothing but grief as a developer of Facebook titles, and the direction and actions of Facebook are not ones I can support.” It’s not all doom and gloom, however, some think that Facebook could help Oculus monetize the Rift and make it successful.

Personally, I have my doubts. Weird Facebook stuff aside, I am seriously wondering how a social networking company, even one as successful as Facebook, can marry its core competencies with software that requires VR hardware AND your computer or other computing device in order to create an integrated experience. To me, this just seems really clunky and doomed to failure.

Currently, the user integration paradigm – computing device (PC, smartphone or tablet), web browser or app and user – don’t provide for an elegant way to incorporate any other kind of hardware or interim device. From my perspective, the big time of Facebook games like Farm Town or Farmville are long gone. That was SO 7 years (2007) ago… Like the WhatsApp acquisition, I have no idea what Facebook intends to do, or what they think they’re going to gain, other than, perhaps to keep some other company from acquiring it.

With WhatsApp, its purchase was redundant. They already have Facebook Messenger; and have indicated that they don’t have any plans on bringing it and Facebook Messenger together, either now or in the future. In my mind, that acquisition was purposefully executed to keep Google (and its competing social network, Google+) from getting their hands on the intellectual property.

What do YOU think of this development? Is this something that works for you, or is it something creepy? I know I always ask you guys for your opinion, but this time I really would like you to chime in. What do you think? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Tell me what you think in the comments section below and let’s see if we can sort this one out.

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Facebook to Acquire WhatsApp

This has to be about users and not technology, resources or anything else…

I saw this the other day and it really made my jaw drop. I wasn’t surprised that Facebook made the acquisition. I was surprised at how much Facebook paid for the organization. The total deal is worth $19B – $4B in cash, $12B in stock and $3B in restricted stock for the founders and other employees.  The restricted shares vest over period of four or so years.  The deal also provides WhatsApp founder Jan Koum with a seat on Facebook’s Board of Directors.

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WhatsApp is an instant messaging app that sends messages over a data connection as opposed to GSM or CDMA.  Because the app sends text messages as data over your smartphone’s data connection, they don’t count against your text messaging limit.  The app claims to have over 450M active users, and is signing up users at the rate of one million a month.  That’s a lot of users…

WhatsApp is similar to Apple’s iMessages platform which sends text messages via an iPhone’s data connection and not a cellular connection to avoid being double charged for the message.

Google also made an offer of $10B for the company, but was ultimately turned down.  Google wanted to make certain that it didn’t get surprised with the WhatsApp deal as it did with Instagram when Facebook snatched it out from under them in 2012.  They were so determined to insure that this didn’t happen that they were willing to pay millions for to WhatsApp in what’s being called a “right of notice” offer. I can’t find out if that agreement was actually consummated or not.  However, Google wanted the right to be notified if another company entered into acquisition talks with WhatsApp; and again, they were willing to pay millions for that. In this case, it likely would have been a waste of money for Google.  Facebook’s offer was nearly double what Google had proposed.

From what I’ve been able to see so far, Facebook plans to leave WhatsApp alone. They did the same thing with Instagram when they acquired them in 2012. They purchased the asset, with the intent of doing – something – with it later.  What that is, and how Facebook might actually make money from or with that asset has yet to be determined.

When I heard about this, I thought, “well, WhatsApp is going to be the new Facebook Messenger,”  but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Facebook Messenger, Facebook’s own text messaging app, isn’t going anywhere.  Some analysts think the acquisition supports Facebook’s strategy to be dominant in the mobile world.  They want to be a go-to company for mobile apps and messaging, especially in emerging markets.  Some analysts thing this is a survival tactic.  WhatsApp is strong in Europe and South America, where it enjoys approximately 80% market penetration in countries like Brazil, Germany, Portugal and Spain.  It is, in fact, the largest mobile messaging service in India, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa, according to Engadget.

What do you think? Is this a good buy for Facebook?  Will WhatsApp really continue to function independently as Instagram does, or will Facebook actively try to do something with the app sooner rather than later?  I’d really like to hear what everyone else thinks.  Why don’t you give me your thoughts on the matter in the discussion area, below?

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Chat with your friends with RaidCall

Chat with your friends with this group-based audio chat software for Windows.

raidcallVoIP is a huge deal. Making calls to friends and loved ones across the internet is easier than ever to do today.  This is one reason why I like apps like RaidCall, It’s an audio chat client for Windows.

RaidCall is free and light weight.  Setting it up is very easy.  With it, you won’t have to rent or set up local chat servers. Its low CPU usage and minimum memory footprint also allow for smooth, uninterrupted communication between you and your call recipients.

RaidCall supports Group Communications, too.  You can have up to 10,000 users at a time in a single RaidCall group and has a flexible group management system.  The client supports Hi-Fi quality voice chat from anywhere in the world; and has additional features like a voice recorder, polling, announcements, and an activity log.

RaidCall also supports instant messaging.  Aside from passing text messages back and forth, the app also handles file transferring and screenshot sharing, and chat records. It also supports personalized themes and emoticons.

RC-01

RaidCall is a decent VoIP client, but is seriously lacking in video calling support. With apps like Skype and FaceTime readily available (depending on platform) that support both audio as well as video chat, for many, RaidCall may be a non-starter in the consumer market.

For SOHO, it may be a decent choice, as video chat may not be a huge need here.  However, the lack of video chat support in a client like this is a huge hole.  Even though it’s free, there are other aps out there that are likely a better choice.

download RaidCall

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Keep in touch with all of your Facebook friends with fTalk

Let’s face it. You use Facebook to keep up with your friends and family. You share pictures, stories, and stuff, and it’s a lot of fun. When it comes to connecting with friends, sometimes, getting the cute fluff out of the way so you can chat with yo’ peeps is just what is needed. This is the reason why I really like fTalk. It’s a multiplatform chat client, specifically designed to work with Facebook.

fTalk enhances your social media experience by taking Facebook to the next level. With fTalk, you can chat with your Facebook friends directly from your desktop, without having to run a browser and surf to Facebook. fTalk enables you to chat with your friends even when you’re at work or in a public environment where you don’t necessarily want to; or can’t open Facebook.  You can see which of your friends have logged in, you can change your status, use emoticons and even video chat! fTalk offers a fun and light Facebook chat experience; and its free.

fTalk is a decent app. It allows you to chat with your FB friends even without having an active FB session going in your browser. It’s very much like Skype for Facebook; or something similar. The app is great. I like it. However its only real value is that it automatically integrates with your FB account and pulls in all your FB Friends.  You could manually do that with Skype Windows Live Messenger, AIM or any other chat client that also supported video. While this doesn’t kill the application’s usefulness, it does limit you to just chatting or video calling to only your FB friends, and if someone does want to chat or video chat with you, they have to be your Facebook friend first.

download fTalk

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Facebook introduces Video Chat and Group Chat features in collaboration with Skype

A couple of days ago, Facebook, world’s biggest social networking website announced that is planning to “launch something awesome”. Well, yesterday, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced as rumored and anticipated, video calling – powered by Skype. Cool, right?

The video functionality is built right into Facebook Chat, so all your conversations start from the same place. To call your friend, just click the video call button at the top of your chat window.

Moreover, the company revealed other chat improvements, such as an option to see the friends you message most (whether on line or offline ) and group chat.

P.S: Facebook has 750 million users (confirmed yesterday), and since Skype only has 170 million users, it’s clear why Skype gains from this integration.

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