Following up on their massively successful $2.4M Kickstarter campagin, Oculus VR has just locked down a gigantic $16M Series A to help them build the truly amazing Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles.
In case you’ve somehow missed all the hubbub about the Rift, here’s what you need to know: it’s quite possibly the most exciting thing going on in gaming right now. Packed tight with 3D stereoscopic displays and a fistful of motion sensors, it’s the virtual reality headset that science fiction has promised us for decades. Strap the Rift on your face, fire up a compatible game, and it’s like entering a whole new world.
Still lost? Check out this clip of our own Anthony Ha demoing the Rift at CES:
As someone who’s lucky enough to have had a Rift strapped to my head at one point: I. can’t. wait. While Microsoft is off shooting itself in the foot with a semi-automatic that has seemingly infinite ammo and Sony is mostly just following a natural evolutionary path with the PS4, in swoops these (now not so) little guys to try and revolutionize gaming.
[By the way, Microsoft: if you want to turn that tide you're drowning in, if only just a little… embrace Oculus. Fast. Or, you know, let Sony do it and continue to absolutely dominate mindshare leading up to this next generation.]
So why raise? Isn’t the $2.4M they got from Kickstarter enough?
Hardly. While that’s a good start (and the Kickstarter certainly did a damned good job of spreading the word), that initial injection went toward the creation and distribution of the Oculus Rift dev kits — the rough, prototype hardware meant for developers to test the waters and start implementing Rift-compatibility into their games.
They’ve still got to build their production/retail hardware, continue to build out their SDK, evangelize the heck out of all of it to get enough developers onboard to make the product worthwhile, and then figure out how to sell it beyond the notable but still relatively small geek crowd that has embraced it so far.
They’ve done a great job of convincing much of the tech world (myself included) that the Oculus Rift could very well change the face of gaming — but if that’s to be the case, they’ve still got a much harder job in front of them: convincing everyone else.
Oculus VR isn’t the first to raise a big ol’ round shortly after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Pebble pulled in $10M on Kickstarter, then raised a $15M Series A a year later. Ouya pulled $8M on Kickstarter, then raised $15M from Kleiner Perkins. It’s starting to seem like a trend in big, flashy hardware startups: have a gigantic Kickstarter, get your prototypes out there, then raise around $15M from the more traditional funding sources within a few months.
The round was led by Spark Capital and Matrix Partners. As part of the deal, Spark Capital founder Santo Politi and Matrix Partner’s Antonio Rodriguez will be joining OculusVR’s board of directors.