Following this week’s news that AltspaceVR, one of the first social VR platforms, is shutting down, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, who is no longer with the company, queried the community to ask if he should seek to save AtlspaceVR from closing.
AltspaceVR was one of the first (now among many) social VR platforms. The app brought people together into shared virtual spaces to talk, play, and share. The platform was host to a range of mini-games like disc golf and sketch off, branded games like Dungeons & Dragons and Boss Monster, and was built for the community to host virtual events.
This week the company announced it would be shutting down on August 3rd after it ran out of venture capital and was unable to secure the next round of funding.
Posting the same message on Facebook and Twitter, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is apparently seeking opinions on whether or not he should save AltspaceVR from shutting down. Luckey’s tweet included a Yes/No poll which at the time of writing stands at 62% Yes, and 38% No, with six days remaining.
Luckey adds, “caveat: may not be possible,” likely implying that the logistics of saving the company might be more complicated than a simple cash infusion.
AltspaceVR co-founder “Cymatic” Bruce Wooden responded to Luckey’s tweet asking him to get in touch if he’d like to talk.
Luckey was the founder of Oculus when the company sold to Facebook for $2 billion in cash and stock. Since the acquisition, Facebook’s stock (which made up the bulk of the value in the transaction) has more than doubled. Forbes estimates Luckey’s net worth at $730 million, though it isn’t clear if Luckey’s consideration of ‘saving’ the company would mean him bankrolling AltspaceVR himself.
Luckey’s offer is especially interesting given that his former employer, Facebook (now the owner of Oculus) is making moves in the social VR scene. The company launched Facebook Spaces earlier this year, a place for small groups of Facebook friends to hang out in VR, share pictures and videos, and communicate with friends outside of VR through Facebook Messenger video calls. Facebook Spaces, and other competition in the social VR sector, likely chilled the feet of investors who might have otherwise funded AltspaceVR’s next round of venture capital.
Luckey’s interest in saving AltspaceVR wouldn’t be the first time he’s done something seemingly against the company he founded. Last month he offered $2,000 per month in financial backing for Revive, a hack which allows Vive users to play Oculus games. In 2016 Oculus had made changes to their DRM policy which effectively blocked Revive, but reversed the decision after community outcry, and has since tolerated the hack.