TikTok parent company ByteDance seems to be looking for a one-up Facebook wherever it can. After taking over the mantle of the most downloaded social media app in the world with TikTok, ByteDance comes for Facebook’s moonlight, buying its own virtual reality headset maker called Pico.
The deal reported by Bloomberg last week was confirmed by the company on Monday, although ByteDance did not disclose a price tag for the deal. Pico had raised $ 62 million in venture funding from Chinese companies, including a $ 37 million Series B series in March. Like Oculus, they create both hardware and software for their VR devices. Unlike Oculus, they have a significant presence in China. Pico may not have the same name recognition as Oculus or HTC, but the company is a top VR hardware manufacturer selling to consumers in China and corporate customers in the western world.
With Pico finding his home now on ByteDance, two of the world̵
It’s no secret that the virtual reality market has slowly slipped out of the gate, but Facebook has burned the path of technology and dumped billions of dollars into an ecosystem that traditional investors have largely seemed uninterested in recent years.
Without knowing the broad terms of the deal (I ask around), it is difficult to determine if this is a moment of resurgence for VR or another sign of a contract market. What seems most likely to me is that ByteDance is actually interested in building a consumer VR brand and aims to follow Facebook’s footsteps closely while learning from their mistakes and leveraging their contribution to the ecosystem. Whether the company focuses exclusively on the consumer markets in China or loosely pursues corporate customers next door as well, is a big question ByteDance must address.