Hello Future: Investing in Oculus VR

Today we announced that we co-led an investment in Oculus VR with our friends at Spark Capital. We are thrilled about the opportunity to work with the Oculus crew for a number of reasons:

First, more innovation has taken place at the interface layer over the last five years than in the prior 20 (since the original Macintosh GUI), and until recently progress involved some sort of fondling of glass, Be it small and in your pocket or large and on your lap, there is only so much that can be immersive when the flattened world you interact with is behind a pane of glass. Many predict that wearables are the next frontier, but most of these devices attempt to coexist with the real world around you, thereby limiting the amount of sheer interface innovation they can provide at any one time. By contrast, Oculus’ headset, the Rift, brings you directly into a world completely controlled by its combination of hardware and software in a unique way that has been the dream of immersive game makers for decades.

The team at Oculus also knows this market incredibly well, with recognizable successes coming from deep within the industry. They understand that like all beachhead markets, they have a demanding, enthusiastic user base where quality of experience really matters and compromises are simply not allowed. These are early days for the Rift platform but it is inspiring and motivating to see how well the gaming community is reacting to the first dev kit.

Thirdly, Oculus sits at the intersection of two large industry trends; the ascendancy of the GPU as the processor that matters most on our PCs, tablets, and consoles and the “smartphonification” of component costs and supply chains. Plenty of companies are taking advantage of this latter trend but Oculus is unique in putting both of them together to deliver an experience that is at the absolute leading edge of what is possible with hardware that can be sourced (and sold) by the millions.

Finally, let’s not kid ourselves: though we are in the business of investing in the future, it is rare to see a team that seems to have jumped directly out of the pages of “Snowcrash” or “Ready Player One.” When Oculus’ CEO, Brendan Iribe, first brought the demo over to our office, it was one of those moments that inspire a mix of deja vu (because you’ve read about concepts like this so many times before) with a sense of wonder about just how much of science fiction is possible today. It might be rough around the edges right now, and the team has loads of work ahead of it before the Rift can go mass market, but to be so wholly transported to another place by such an immersive piece of technology, we immediately knew that this is a piece of the future we wanted to support. We are enormously excited about Oculus VR and can’t wait for everyone to experience what it’s like when virtual reality reaches its potential.

At Matrix we’ve spent the last three decades helping the entrepreneurs at the frontier of platform changes: be they the early PC pioneers at Apple or the data communications folks that brought the Internet to the rest of us, and by partnering with Oculus VR, we’re really looking forward to the next chapter.

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