Billion Dollar Dart Throwing

Facebook’s $2 billion bet on Oculus or $19 billion spend on Whatsapp or Google paying $3.2 billion for Nest — everyone is looking to find the next platform, argues Fred Wilson. Everyone is betting billions of dollars on trying to find what comes after mobile. Fred’s comments made me wonder: so are smartest minds of our time are as clueless about the future as rest of us?  (Also, Dave Winer has outline nine reasons why Zuck bought Oculus.)

Chuckles aside, is it that both Google and Facebook realize that there is only so much they can do with web-based advertising and ensuing revenue stream? If you ask me, that is the real story here — realization that there is a glass ceiling to advertising especially as we shift gears and move away from the old desktop advertising ecosystem to a smaller, pocketable ecosystem that is less prone to cheap optimization tricks and is also limited by available attention, that is getting increasingly fractionalized by dozens of services that keep popping up like mushrooms after monsoons. 

A friend explained that Oculus acquisition makes it easy for Facebook to tell a story about “cool” things the company is doing. In comparison to Google which is working on cool shit like driver less cars, robotics and Project Loon, Facebook looks decidedly uncool and one dimensional (advertising focused.) Oculus changes the perception of the company with potential employees. More importantly the company has perception of being focused on the future cool things. Wall Street values promise of the future and accords premium based on that. And that alone is worth a couple of billion dollars.

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