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Virtual Reality

I recently watched the newly released Spielberg produced movie Ready Player One, and it was a spectacular treat for the nerd in me.

Littered with pop culture references, the movie is essentially about a time in the future where people live more in virtual reality than reality (or are we already?).

The movie got me thinking about the actual reality of virtual reality today, and the go-go years of 2014-16 where our entire lives were about to be disrupted by VR.

When Oculus raised an incredible $96MM in 2 years and got acquired by Facebook for $2Bn, VR startups mushroomed at a rapid pace. In the last 4 years, we are yet to see a product/application go mainstream.

I think we are at least 10 years away from VR being truly adopted, until we don’t have a VR application that is useful – it won’t.

A key parallel that I usually draw for any new technology to be used at scale is the technical stack of the internet (aside: the link is a fantastic primer on blockchain).

Before you build applications, you need to have widespread distribution of hardware, development of protocol and a network. As you can see, a lot of infrastructure of the internet was built over decades before we could see applications like Amazon, Google or Facebook scale.

The hardware needed for VR to scale has to be setup, and Oculus’ Rift (or anything else) is far away from being widely adopted or sufficiently complete (unlike the full body haptic technology in Ready Player One which is widely used and immersive).

Infrastructure for consumer technology is prohibitively expensive to fund for even private equity investors, given infrastructure’s long life cycles and low rate of returns. VR definitely needs the infrastructure.

It will be interesting to see how VR scales, and who really believe in backing the infrastructure needed.  

This week, I look at Zelle, Omnibots and Windows et al. 

  1. [Large Startups]: Flipkart sale talks mark the end of the $100 Bn dream
  2. [Work Culture]: How to establish values on small teams*
  3. [Growing Startups]: Zelle, banks’ answer to Venmo, proves vulnerable to fraud 
  4. [Buzzwords]: The rise of the Omnibots
  5. [Life x Startups]: Beyond networks – digging moats in non networked products
  6. [The New Monopolies]: The End of Windows*
  7. [Data!]: Are You Really the Product for Facebook?
  8. [Modern Economics]: The company controlled by a penniless Yoga Superstar
  9. [Classic Economics]: The best books on finance and economics
  10. [Business is Entertainment]: Infinity War is Marvel’s Universe – we just live in it