John Carmack, the legendary game developer, rocket scientist and all-round genuis, has claimed that although the takeover of Oculus by Facebook took him by surprise, he's fully behind the deal and believes it could turn out to be great for all parties.
Speaking on the blog of musician Peter Berkman of band anamanaguchi, Carmack made is first public statement on the acquisition, saying:
I share some of your misgivings about companies "existing and operating only to be acquired". I am a true believer in market economies, and the magic of trade being a positive sum game is most obvious with repeated transactions at a consumer level. Company acquisitions, while still (usually) being a trade between willing parties that in theory leaves both better off, have much more of an element of speculation rather than objective assessment of value, and it definitely feels different.
There is a case to be made for being like Valve, and trying to build a new VR ecosystem like Steam from the ground up. This is probably what most of the passionate fans wanted to see. The difference is that, for years, the industry thought Valve was nuts, and they had the field to themselves. Valve deserves all their success for having the vision and perseverance to see it through to the current state.
VR won't be like that. The experience is too obviously powerful, and it makes converts on contact. The fairly rapid involvement of the Titans is inevitable, and the real questions were how deeply to partner, and with who.
Honestly, I wasn't expecting Facebook (or this soon). I have zero personal background with them, and I could think of other companies that would have more obvious synergies. However, I do have reasons to believe that they get the Big Picture as I see it, and will be a powerful force towards making it happen. You don't make a commitment like they just did on a whim.
I wasn't personally involved in any of the negotiations -- I spent an afternoon talking technology with Mark Zuckerberg, and the next week I find out that he bought Oculus.
When drawn on the potential for data mining from Facebook using the Rift, Carmack claimed he didn't expect to see any major fallout or issues:
I'm not a "privacy is gone, get over it" sort of person, and I fully support people that want remain unobserved, but that means disengaging from many opportunities. The idea that companies are supposed to interact with you and not pay attention has never seemed sane to me.
Being data driven is a GOOD thing for most companies to be. Everyone cheers the novel creative insight and bold leadership that leads to some successes, and tut tuts about companies ending up poorly by blindly following data, but cold analysis of the data is incredibly important, and I tend to think the world will be improved with more and better data analysis.
I have never felt harmed by data mining, and I rather like the recommendations that Amazon gives me on each visit. What terrible outcome is expected from this?