What technology does Vanity Fair’s number one disruptor for 2015 think has potential for major disruption? Virtual reality. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg last year made a big bet on Oculus Rift, purchasing the Irvine, Cali. startup for $2 billion.
Vanity Fair’s October cover story delves into what went behind the deal and provides some insight into what Zuckerberg is looking for when considering an acquisition.
Here are some tips for how to entice Facebook –- or other world-changing companies -- to see the potential in your startup.
Frame your product or technology as one with relevance in a multitude of situations. Don’t pigeonhole it to just one primary use.
Oculus VR CEO Brendan Iribe initially made the mistake during his first call with Zuckerberg of telling the Facebook CEO that Oculus was mainly about gaming. That was a turn-off to Zuckerberg, who has, if anything, been de-emphasizing gaming's role in the Facebook user experience.
Iribe was able to salvage the situation with a follow-up email urging Zuckerberg to try the headset himself and come to his own conclusions. After doing so, Zuckerberg concluded Oculus was onto something with a wide variety of applications.
“Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face—just by putting on goggles in your home,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post announcing his company’s purchase of Oculus.
When Zuckerberg showed up at Oculus’s offices in Irvine to see a more advanced version of Oculus Rift, founder Palmer Luckey blew him off.
“I’m a big fan, but I actually have to get back to work,” he reportedly said.
You might think being rude to a potential buyer or major investor in your startup would be a dumb idea. In this situation, however, Zuckerberg was charmed.
“They definitely have the hacker culture that we have,” Zuckerberg told Vanity Fair. “Those shared values were what attracted us to each other and made us comfortable.”
Luckey’s decision to prioritize actual work on his product over schmoozing with the head of the largest social networking site in the world may have conveyed the founder’s unabashed confidence in the headset his startup had created. It didn't hurt that Luckey already had major investments to count on.
“If Mark had been like, This is stupid, I don’t get it at all, we would have said, Yeah, well, screw Mark anyway. What does he know?” the founder told the magazine.
If you want to get absorbed by the likes of Facebook, it helps to think like a crystal ball.
Luckey and Zuckerberg share the idea the virtual reality is one of the great waves of the future. The technology that to a layperson seems like science fiction, to the two entrepreneurs seems inevitable. Computers, the internet and smartphones were also at one time viewed as techno-pipe dreams, Zuckerberg commented on Facebook when he announced the purchase of Oculus VR.
“There are certain things in the future that you know will happen,” Zuckerberg told Vanity Fair. “The real challenge is figuring out what’s possible now and how exactly do you make it.”
“These big computing platforms come around every 10 years,” he later added. “I think it’s time to start working on the next one.”