Very soon a new book is being released by Blake J. Harris called ‘The History of the Future’ looking at the story of Oculus, how it was founded, its subsequent acquisition by Facebook and all the fun drama that’s occurred over the past few years as virtual reality (VR) has grown. It seems however that such was Mark Zuckerberg’s interest in the tech that the book claims he considered purchasing Unity, the software development engine that powers a lot of the content everyone currently enjoys.
Facebook purchased Oculus for just over $2 billion USD in 2014. A year later the social media giant then considered another multi-billion dollar deal to snap up Unity reports Tech Crunch. For the book Harris had been working closely with the Facebook PR team, supposedly gaining access to over 25,000 documents whilst being granted interviews with top Facebook executives. In amongst all those documents was an email dated from 2015 in which Zuckerberg mentions his interest in acquiring Unity, in a bid to help it ward off competition from rivals.
“We are vulnerable on mobile to Google and Apple because they make major mobile platforms,” states the email. “Given our own strengths, we will probably be best served building most apps and platform services internally while using acquisitions opportunistically, and the acquiring most of the core VR / AR and 3D tech where we have little experience. This is why I am supportive of acquiring Unity, expecting we will acquire an AR company in the next few years and opportunistically acquiring VR app teams.”
He then goes on to write: “Two illustrate the value of owning this core technology, I’ll outline the advantages of owning Unity. First, Unity will help us build world class VR / AR experiences required to deliver on this overall mission…” But it wasn’t purely because of VR and AR that Zuckerberg wanted Unity.
“If we own Unity, then Android, Windows and iOS will all need us to support them on larger portions of their ecosystems won’t work. While we wouldn’t reject them outright, we will have options for how deeply we support them,” he surmises. “On the flip side, if someone else buys Unity or the leader in any core technology component of this new ecosystem, we risk being taken out of the market completely if that acquirer is hostile and decides not to support us.”
Even if that was the case Unity was never acquired by Facebook anyway, and is now worth more than ever managing to raise almost $600 million of investment in the last few years. The book will likely contain a few more surprises – most likely regarding Palmer Luckey. If it does VRFocus will let you know.