June 2016

In 2011, an 18 year old Palmer Luckey found himself frustrated with the poor quality of the head-mounted virtual reality displays he had been collecting – so he went out to his parents’ garage and built one himself.

A year later, he started a campaign on Kickstarter for the headset, which he called the “Oculus Rift,” hoping to raise enough money to buy parts for about 100 more. Instead, he raised $2.5 million, becoming the young face of modern virtual reality in the process. In 2014, Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion.

Oculus isn’t the only success story, either. So far, investors have poured $4 billion into nearly 500 VR startups. Their founders want to change the way we experience entertainment, commerce, work, and even how we keep in touch with relatives.

So what is it about virtual reality that enabled Luckey to create $2 billion of value in a 3 year span?

Well, as these ambitious founders believe, virtual reality has the potential to shift paradigms in every industry. Remember how the internet changed the way we listen to music? Virtual reality can change the way we go to concerts. Email may have made working from home feasible, but virtual reality can make it seamless. And yeah, color television is great, but just wait until you get to walk around the set of House of Cards while Frank Underwood calmly manipulates some unsuspecting high-level politician.

Personally, I can’t wait to see this really break into the ad industry. Imagine the power for your marketing. What if a hotel could literally say “come on in” to its prospective guests, and let them “walk around” its beautiful lobby? The new rollercoaster at the theme park will only be more enticing to someone who’s gotten to virtually ride it in their living room! And just imagine the implications for non-profits who’ve tried for so long to communicate the poverty they fight in developing countries.

While VR is far from ubiquitous, it’s already started creeping into our lives. Scroll down your Facebook news feed; you’re bound to come to one of their new 360 videos, made with the same technology being developed at Oculus. Two years ago, Google released “Google Cardboard,” a foldable kit to turn an Android phone into a virtual reality headset for just $15. Even Apple is quietly and secretively investigating opportunities in VR, some say even to be implemented in the 2017 version of the iPhone.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe virtual reality will fade, along with the $4 billion invested into it. But it’s more fun think about the endless possibilities.


Jackson Clemmer
Intern | Student
A full service marketing communications firm and advertising agency in Altamonte Springs (Orlando) Florida