SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook said it would buy virtual reality company Oculus VR for about $2 billion in cash and stock.
Oculus is the Irvine, Calif., maker of the Rift headset. The company will continue to operate independently within Facebook, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post.
With the purchase, the giant social network is focusing on "what platforms will come next to enable even more useful, entertaining and personal experiences," Zuckerberg said.
When you put on the Oculus headset, "you enter a completely immersive computer-generated environment, like a game or a movie scene or a place far away," Zuckerberg said. "The incredible thing about the technology is that you feel like you're actually present in another place with other people. People who try it say it's different from anything they've ever experienced in their lives.
"Oculus's mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences."
Oculus is focused first on "immersive gaming," and Facebook will accelerate those plans, Zuckerberg said.
Facebook also will focus on Oculus as a platform for other types of experiences, such as sitting courtside at a game or consulting face to face with a doctor.
"This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life," Zuckerberg said.
The purchase is expected to close in the second quarter.
In a company blog post, Oculus said Zuckerberg visited the company with a couple members of his team a few months ago to see the latest demos and discuss a possible acquisition.
"As we talked more, we discovered the two teams shared an even deeper vision of creating a new platform for interaction that allows billions of people to connect in a way never before possible," Oculus said.
Over the next decade, Oculus predicts that virtual reality will become affordable and ubiquitous, giving people an opportunity to learn, communicate and experience the world in new ways.
"We want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step," the Oculus team said in the blog post.