TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, appears to be looking to build a Facebook wherever possible. After picking up the torch for the world’s most downloaded social media app with TikTok, ByteDance is coming for Facebook’s moonshot, purchasing its own maker of virtual reality headsets called Pico.
The deal first reported by Bloomberg last week was confirmed by the company on Monday, although ByteDance did not disclose a price for the deal. Pico had raised some $ 62 million in venture capital funds from Chinese firms, including a $ 37 million Series B in March. Like Oculus, they create both hardware and software for their VR devices. Unlike Oculus, they have a substantial presence in China. Pico may not have the same notoriety as Oculus or HTC, but the company is a leading manufacturer of VR gear, selling to a consumer audience in China and corporate customers in the Western world.
With Pico now moving to ByteDance, two of the world’s biggest VR brands now reside within social media companies. Ironically, many of the company’s North American customers I’ve spoken to over the years seem to have at least partially switched to the Pico headsets over the Oculus hardware due to the general data fatigue of Facebook and models. commercials addicted to ads, which they fear Oculus will eventually become a bigger part of.
It’s no secret that the VR market has been slow, but Facebook has led the way in technology, dumping billions of dollars into an ecosystem that mainstream investors have seemed largely disinterested in in recent years.
Without knowing the general terms of the deal (I ask around), it’s hard to determine if this is a moment of resurgence for VR or some other sign of a shrinking market. . What seems most likely to me is that ByteDance is indeed interested in building a mainstream VR brand and aims to closely follow in Facebook’s footsteps while learning from their missteps and capitalizing on their contributions to the ecosystem. Whether the company is focusing solely on consumer markets in China or loosely pursuing corporate clients in the United States is a big question that ByteDance will need to address.