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From $2M to $2B in 18 Months: What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Oculus VR

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As I’m sure you’ve already read, Facebook recently acquired Oculus Virtual Reality for $2 billion.

This is a huge deal… and here’s why:

Brief Company Timeline:
August 2012 – Oculus Rift raises $2.5M on Kickstarter
June 2013 — Oculus Rift raises $16M in venture capital
December 2013 — Oculus Rift raises another $75M, led by Marc Andreessen
March 2014 — Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2B.

The CEO of Oculus went from:

*”I’ve got an idea” — to —
“I run a $2 Billion company”
…in under 18 months. Ouch!*

A few more impressive numbers:

  • The CEO (Palmer Luckey) is a 20-year-old college dropout.
  • The company had only 50 employees at the time of its $2B exit.

This is one of the more striking examples of exponential growth as of late, and hits on many of the lessons we’re learning about at the Abundance 360 Summit.

Let’s break down why this is so incredible.

Crowdfunding — As we’ve discussed, crowdfunding can help you secure your seed investment (which for Oculus was $2.5M) by validating your market and fit. Then, with the momentum you build, you can raise venture capital. In this case, that meant $95M… This deal substantiates the claim that the value of crowdfunding is so much more than just the money raised during the campaign. Oculus VR received incredible market validation and curated a massive network of passionate developers to push the technology (and business) forward.

The User Interface Moment — As we discussed at Abundance 360 this year, the key to monitoring exponential technologies is looking for User Interface moments, which herald something big. Very big… (If you are unfamiliar with the term “User interface moment,” think back to the Mosaic Web Browser created by Marc Andreessen. It was the moment when “the web” became useful to the world).

Breakthroughs Coming from a Novice — There have been MANY attempts to bring virtual reality headsets to mainstream audiences, and hundreds of millions have been spent in the process. This breakthrough didn’t come from an expert (who normally can tell you what can’t be done) but from a passionate novice who didn’t know what couldn’t be done. So, it would only make sense that Marc Andreessen was the lead investor in Oculus VR – a veteran in spotting the true “user interface moment” and capitalizing on timing.

Exponential Organizations — The story of Oculus VR is another incredible validation of the power of Exponential Organizations. Like the examples of Exponential Organizations before it, Instagram, AirBnB and WhatsApp, this story has all the pieces of the exponential organization puzzle: A Massively Transformative Purpose (MTP), a small team, use of exponential technologies, use of the Crowd & Community, etc.

Passion Trumps All — How can a 20-year-old USC dropout succeed where experts of the past have failed? Passion. This story should inspire everyone to pursue his or her passions. Palmer Luckey, the founder and creator of Oculus VR, had but one goal: make video games even better than they already were. Once Palmer realized he could use virtual reality to fulfill his dream, he did everything in his power to make it come true. Luckey’s approach to this was simple: “Use virtual reality to make me love something more than I already do.” You need to build things with a purpose. Pursue things with a fiery passion that gets you out of bed in the morning. Don’t just go build something for the sake of building something.

I hope you find this useful. I wanted to bring to life some of the critical lessons we studied together at Abundance 360 so you can remind yourself how to apply them in your own startup or business.

At the next Abundance 360 Summit, I plan on diving even further into virtual reality and the huge boom it could create across all industries. The potential impact it will have on the cost of business, travel, real estate, etc. is enormous. I hope to see you there.

My MTP is: “To empower entrepreneurs to create extraordinary wealth while creating a world of Abundance.” (What’s yours?)

[image credit: flickr/Sergey Galyonkin]

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3 comments

  • PookyMedia says:

    OR will help create what is next The Living Screen, where “we” are in the show or event. Passion has kept me producing virtual realty television and machine engine films for the past decade. With all technology it will be “what you do with it”

    Why watch TV when you can star in your cartoon movie every night?

    OR & FB stand to give everyone an avatar, and what you do as one will define much over the coming decades in entertainment.
    http://virtualworldtelevision.com/2014/03/26/why-virtual-world-television-living-screen/

  • Quantium says:

    The use of VR to move minds and instead of moving bodies is what the world needs to help resolve the ever developing climate change problem. Here is what the PCM pioneer Alec Reeves said on British TV back in 1965:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8hqgwQPJ1E

    Unfortunately the company for which Reeves worked through most if his life, Standard Telecommunication Laboratories, was taken over by the Canadian telcomm giant Nortel which eventually went bust, and the laboratory is now an abandoned ruin, despite complaints in the British parliament. More about him can be found on
    http://www.alecharleyreeves.com

  • turtles_allthewaydown
    turtles_allthewaydown says:

    So how is this different from VR headsets in the past? I saw something that looks very similar to this at Dave & Busters I believe (a video game/restaurant chain) probably 16 years ago. Other than better resolution and probably more accurate response times, I don’t see a difference.

    Given the beyond-geeky appearance of anybody wearing it, and probably fatigue of face muscles if using it for more than 20 minutes, I really don’t see how this is a $2 billion idea, especially in light of all the previous ones that failed.

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