Monthly Archives: March 2014

Facebook Acquires Oculus VR for $2 Billion

Last week, I wrote about the new Oculus Rift development kit that was released. Well, this past week, Facebook announced that they acquired Oculus VR, the company created from a Kickstarter and the maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. This news brought more negative than positive comments across the tech community.

The day the news broke, a post about how to cancel your Oculus Rift pre-order was on the front page of Reddit. Minecraft creator Notch took to Twitter to say that he “cancelled that deal” (in reference to Minecraft becoming Oculus Rift compatible) because “Facebook creeps me out.” People who contributed $25 to the original Kickstarter, are angered by the deal and claim that Facebook owes them $40,000. Twitter was full of negative things to say about the acquisition. This YouTube video was created (warning: a tad bit of expletive language)-

However, not all reactions to the news were so negative. Chris Taylor of Mashable writes a great article on why the acquisition by Facebook is a positive for Oculus VR.  He explains how Facebook isn’t going to ruin the Oculus Rift. Why would Facebook want a reputation of taking companies and forcing them to  do what Facebook wants, and going back on their word of keeping the acquired companies independent? Look at Instagram. It’s a huge social media service that I forget is even owned by Facebook. Kevin Systrom, the creator of Instagram, is still very much in charge. Facebook has also not touched any user data from the recently acquired WhatsApp, even though many worried about that happening. Facebook has built a history of funding startup companies and letting them run themselves independently.

Also, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey answered many people on Reddit about the acquisition. He wrote, “I am not going to close off, I am 100% certain that most people will see why this is good in the long term. Any change at Oculus will be for the better.” He then listed three reasons why-

“1) We can make custom hardware, not rely on the scraps of the mobile phone industry. That is insanely expensive, think hundreds of millions of dollars. More news soon.
2) We can afford to hire everyone we need, the best people that fit into our culture of excellence in all aspects.
3) We can make huge investments in content. More news soon.”

So, what are your thoughts on Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR? Do you think that Facebook will ruin the Oculus Rift, or help the Oculus Rift become what it aimed to be pre-acquisition? I personally think that this is great for Oculus, because they now have much more funding to create a better, and hopefully consumer ready VR headset. Also, Facebook has a good track record of purchasing companies and letting them continue to run themselves. But, time will tell as to how the Oculus Rift turns out.

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Zach Barkus Webinar Discussion Summary

Zach Barkus, an alumni of Lebanon Valley College, currently works for Campbell’s Soups and is in charge of their Leading Mobile Strategy and Emerging Partnerships. In our discussion, Zach talked about some techniques and strategies that he and his team at Campbell’s uses for their social media campaign, some tips about how to use social media as a tool, rather than just for fun, and lastly about the practices that companies will adopt in the future.

Of all the things that Zach talked about,  engagement with the consumer seemed the be the most important point of his presentation. A large number of followers simply isn’t enough anymore, but a good company engages with those followers. He believes that the expectations of consumers are changing- they now have a higher hope for a relationship between the brand and the consumer. Because of this, companies have to pay attention to their customer base and model their posts accordingly. For example, Zach explained how Campbell’s is aware that moms look online after work, and they utilize that time to post a recipe on Facebook. They look for the times with the biggest reward on a post.

Another major point of Zach’s presentation was unplanned vs. planned social media strategies. Some planned strategies can be shorts, say three months, or long, say three years, depending on the desired outcome of events. The purpose of planned events is obvious- to have a fluid marketing campaign that will develop brand identity. This has been the norm up until the last few years, where with such increased social media usage, we are now seeing unplanned strategies as well. They provide a brand with an opportunity to make a statement and get widespread attention. The classic example, that Zach referenced, was the Oreo tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout.

Zach also talked about some of the strategies that we will see companies adopt in the future. Google, for example, is beginning to track user behavior. With data such as GPS tracking, they can have an entire day tracked out based off of the data. Google can then sell this data to companies who are interested in targeting a certain audience. Going back to the mom example, companies like Campbell’s who target moms, will be interested in the data that tracks moms’ daily routines. If the data indeed confirms that moms do leave work around 4:30, then those companies can target their ads in that time frame. This could be done using the Facebook post of a recipe around that time as mentioned earlier, or even sending an alert of a deal to mom’s smartphones not long after 4:30 pm.

Zach gave an excellent presentation and I’m thankful that he took time out of his day to do that for us. If we were able to ask questions after the presentation, here are my questions-

  • What do you do when people say mean and angry things against the Campbell’s brand(s) on social media? Just ignore them? Or something else?
  • Have you or Campbell’s thought about using some of the other forms of social media such as Vine, Snapchat, or Pinterest?
  • Do your social media posts have to go through some sort of proof-reading/checking process before being sent out?

Virtual Reality: It’s Finally Going to Be a Reality

Ha, get the pun in the title? Virtual reality is something that the technology industry has been tinkering with for years. Does anyone remember the Virtual Boy from Nintendo in 1995? Yes, it was a huge failure, but it was one of the first commercial attempts at virtual reality. Since then, there has been more tinkering, but no serious attempt at a new VR headset. This past week, two companies released new prototypes of VR headsets- Oculus with their second Oculus Rift development kit, and Sony with their Project Morpheus for the Playstation 4.

The Oculus Rift started in 2012 as a Kickstarter program, which means that it was crowdfunded by donations to Oculus. Since then, developers across the world have 50,000 units to create games and applications for it. There is no consumer version yet, but that is hopefully in the works for the future. The second development kit released this week, moves closer to a production model with increased resolution, decreased motion blur, and improved positional tracking.

Sony’s Project Morpheus, (which is a reference to The Matrix) is most likely going to be a commercial product before the Oculus Rift. Sony is the creator of the Playstation, and is interested in a VR headset for its Playstation 4. As an owner of a PS4, if the price is right, I would be really interested in having one of these headsets. The Morpheus is very similar to the second Oculus Rift, with nearly the same specs. The only real difference is that the Morpheus is designed for the Playstation 4, and therefore fits the design of those products with its blue LED lights and white and black color scheme. The Oculus Rift is open source, and is for any application that it can be programmed for.

It’s exciting to see where technology is taking us. In a few years, these virtual reality headsets will be available to consumers and will further push the boundaries of our technology. This is what drives my love for technology- the innovation and creation of new technologies that we thought could never be done, becoming an actual reality (or virtual in this case).

Twitter Data Shows When We’re Happy, Sad, Hungover

Twitter knows our emotions to the point of being able to tell us when we’re sad, happy, etc. It’s currently March, and according to Twitter data, we’re most likely “hungover” or “late to work.” Hooray for March!

This compiled data, published in article on Mashable,  takes a look at when users tweet certain words and phrases like “feel happy,” “feel sad,” “hungover,” and “late to work.” The data, shown in the graphs below, is broken into days of the week and by month. The compiled data is from English tweets in the year 2013.

As expected, users tweet the phrase “late for work” more often on Summer weekdays. “Feeling sad” shows more in the winter than any other season, to no one’s surprise with winter’s weather. An interesting part of the data is the high level of “feeling happy” on Tuesday in December. However, guess what day Christmas was this past year? Tuesday. So, not too much of a surprise there.

There were some unexpected parts of the data, however. I expected the phrase “feeling happy” to be most prominent on a summer weekend. But it turns out, the day where that phrase was most tweeted was a Tuesday in September. Also, “feeling sad” saw a lot of tweeting in July and August, which is contrary to what I would expect. What were people sad about in July and August of 2013?

I wonder if we will see this data being used by Twitter and companies/advertisers in the future, if they already aren’t now. Looking at this data also makes me think, what doesn’t social media know about us?

How to Hunt for a Job Using Social Media

Forget about looking on job websites, in newspapers, or finding job opening signs around town. The new way to find a job? Social media. In an article posted on Mashable, Yohana Desta suggests how to find a job opening through social media. She lists 5 social media services that are great tools for a job hunt- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Desta goes into detail for each platform on how to find the position you’re looking for.

This article is really interesting to me because I’ve had three jobs in my life so far, along with the fourth one that I’m working on for this summer. In my searches for those jobs, I never once thought about using social media to find those positions. I did what most people do- use job searching websites such as Indeed, Monster, and Snagajob. Or, I simply drove around town looking for help wanted signs. I know that social media is a very powerful platform, but I never thought about using it to find my next job.

In the future, I’m definitely going to take advantage of social media in my job search, starting with my search for this summer. Hopefully it leads to a new, interesting opportunity for me!