Faceboculus: VC returns, and other deal notes

March 26, 2014, 10:21 PM UTC

FORTUNE — We’ve now had about a day to digest the news that Facebook (FB) is acquiring virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR for upwards of $2.24 billion (or perhaps less, given that Facebook stock is off 6% as of this writing). Here are some notes on the deal:

ROI: This is a huge return for venture capitalists. I’m told that Oculus raised $16 million in Series A funding at a $30 million pre-money valuation last June, and then $75 million in Series B funding at around a $200 million pre-money valuation last December.

Optionality: Word is that Oculus had alternate financing options on the table before taking the Facebook deal, including at least one that would have provided some founder liquidity.

Icahn bait: Marc Andreessen sits on the boards of both Facebook and Oculus, but tweeted out last night that he recused himself from all discussions surrounding the transaction. He also does not seem to have been involved in making introductions between Oculus management and Zuckerberg. A16Z actually had two Oculus board seats, so fellow partner Chris Dixon repped the firm’s interests.

History: This is the third time that Facebook has made $1 billion or more for a company. The first was Instagram, the second was WhatsApp. One big difference here, however, is that Oculus is actually generating revenue already. As Erin Griffith reports, the company has brought in around $23 million in pre-orders for its developer kits ($300 price point).

What’s the point? Oculus is viewed by many as a gaming peripheral, but investors I spoke with last night argue that such a characterization would have never made it past their investment committees. Instead, they view Oculus as a software platform that happens to work on top of proprietary hardware. The Facebook partnership, they argue, reflects how many people view virtual reality as the next major paradigm shift after mobile.

Macro: According to Thomson Reuters, global tech M&A is now at its highest year-to-date level since 2000 (in terms of both dollar volume and deal number). Overall there has been $65.2 billion of M&A activity announced in the sector, with FB/Oculus being the 6th-largest transaction.


Source: Thomson Reuters

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