Signs Virtual Reality and Crowdfunding Are Going Mainstream

Three exciting developments — that I believe you should know about — happened in technology this week. In this blog, I want to share them with you and give you context.

Pebble Time Crowdfunding > $20 million

A few days ago, Eric Migicovsky and his team at Pebble closed their Kickstarter campaign for the new Pebble Time watch, raising $20,338,986 from 78,471 backers. (They recaptured the crowdfunding record, dramatically dethroning Ryan Grepper’s recent Coolest Cooler campaign, which raised $13 million.)

This Pebble Time campaign is important for two reasons.

Pebble smartwatches.

Crowdfunding is growing, fast: In 2012, crowdfunding platforms raised some $2.7 billion and successfully funded more than a million campaigns, according to a Massolution report.

This year, crowdfunding platforms are projected to raise over $5 billion. Kickstarter alone has raised over $1.6 billion and successfully funded 80,000 projects.

By 2025, the global crowdfunding market will reach about $100 billion — roughly 1.8 times the size of the global venture capital industry today, according to a 2013 study commissioned by the World Bank.

Power in the hands of small entrepreneurs: Rather than try to compete with the Apples and Samsungs of the world, the Pebble team decided to make a BOLD move and play to their strengths.

Their key differentiator was their massive 100,000+ person online community of fans and early adopters.

Clearly, the Apple Watch will probably sell 100 times more watches, but this crowdfunding campaign allowed Pebble to “time” their announcement, show their stuff and begin selling their product before Apple flooded the market.

SEC allows non-accredited investors to participate in equity-based crowdfunding

After nearly three years of regulatory delays, the SEC has voted to approve equity crowdfunding for non-accredited investors. This is huge.

This breakthrough in equity crowdfunding (as distinct from reward-based crowdfunding, like Pebble Watch) will open the door for billions in investment capital to be injected into the entrepreneurial economy.

The SEC approved the rules for Regulation A+, under Title IV of the JOBS Act, allowing companies to raise up to $50M with non-accredited investors. In 60 days, the new regulations will go into effect, and will create a new market for both accredited only (current Title II), as well as non-accredited crowdfunding.

Now, if you have a strong community, and you need to raise money, you can sell shares (stock) in your company directly to your community of followers, users and raving fans.

In my opinion, we are now at the knee of an exponential growth curve in equity-based crowdfunding that will empower millions of entrepreneurs globally to start new businesses, create new jobs, and to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges with backing from the crowd.

Chance Barnett of equity-crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder provides an excellent explanation here, if interested.

Facebook announces their plans for virtual reality

At their recent F8 conference, Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s CTO, described their vision for the future of virtual reality. Last year ago, many were asking: Why did Facebook pay $2 billion for Oculus RiftAnd why is VR going to work now, especially when it didn’t work in the 80s or 90s or 00s?

The team at Facebook laid out four major reasons that this time is different.

  1. Key convergence of exponential technologies: The key tech to make VR work is now finally here and cheap enough to mass produce. Namely: integrated circuits, IMUs, gyros to track head location, high-resolution screen, and high-resolution, high-performance cameras.
  2. It’s just good enough: VR is already just far enough along to enable compelling experiences on consumer hardware, as seen by demand for consumer systems like the Oculus or Samsung Gear VR.
  3. Lots of Investment & Broad industry participation: It’s not just Facebook. Billions are being invested by Google/Magic Leap, Microsoft, Samsung, Sony and Valve/HTC. Expect a lot of breakthroughs and new capabilities.
  4. Companies are making long-term commitments: Developing better VR technology is hard and will require long-term commitment. The companies above are planning to make long-term investment commitments to take VR into a multitude of markets from gaming, to retail, to real estate and beyond.

Image Credit:; Pebble/Kickstarter

Peter H. Diamandis, MD
Peter H. Diamandis, MD
Diamandis is the founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and operating large-scale incentive competitions. He is also the executive founder and director of Singularity University, a global learning and innovation community using exponential technologies to tackle the world’s biggest challenges and build a better future for all. As an entrepreneur, Diamandis has started over 20 companies in the areas of longevity, space, venture capital, and education. He is also co-founder of BOLD Capital Partners, a venture fund with $250M investing in exponential technologies. Diamandis is a New York Times Bestselling author of two books: Abundance and BOLD. He earned degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering from MIT and holds an MD from Harvard Medical School. Peter’s favorite saying is “the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”
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