TikTok Owner ByteDance Acquires Virtual Reality Startup

TikTok owner ByteDance has acquired a virtual reality start-up called Pico marking the Chinese company’s first move virtual reality space.

The size or worth of the deal was not revealed by byteDance, headquartered in Beijing, China, but said in a statement that the “comprehensive suite of software and hardware technologies of Pico, as well as the talent and deep expertise of the team, will support both our entry to the VR space and long-term investment in this emerging field.”

According to IDC, Pico had achieved a 44 per cent year on year growth in shipments of its virtual reality headset in the virtual reality headset which made it the third-largest VR headset maker globally for the quarter.

The short video sharing app TikTok of ByteDance and its Chinese version Douyin have been very successful while its news aggregation app Toutiao has also gained popularity.

Its acquisition of Pico marks a push to diversify its business.

A major mobile gaming studio called Moonton was acquired by ByteDance in March in a deal that was reported to be worth $4 billion as a part of its strategy to further expand into the gaming segment.

The acquisition of Pico now could pit ByteDance as a possible rival of Facebook’s Oculus VR division. The largest social media company of the world had acquired Oculus in 2014 for a combination of $400 million in cash and 23.1 million Facebook shares. Even though at the time of the deal, Facebook had said that the application of VR in the real world were still mostly confined to gaming, the company had also signalled that it believed in the potential to expand VR “to new verticals, including communications, media and entertainment, education, and other areas.”

“Mobile is the platform of today, and now we’re also getting ready for the platforms of tomorrow,” Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said at the time. “Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play, and communicate.”

Apple had purchased a virtual reality company NextVR last year which raised speculations that the iPhone maker could be venturing into making its own VR headsets.

“We are optimistic about the future of VR and its alignment with our mission,” a ByteDance spokesperson said.

This acquisition comes close on the heels of ByteDance’s TikTok announcing last week of it testing out a new augmented reality studio which could be used soon by creators for the short video sharing platform for experimenting with new in-app features, including lenses and visual effects.

A ByteDance spokesperson told CNBC that the company is “optimistic about the future of VR and its alignment with our mission,” but did not immediately respond to request for further comment.

(Adapted from HeadTopics.com & Gizmodo.com)

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