Zuckerberg, the founder of one of the world's largest companies,
faced hours of tough, public questioning about where Oculus
obtained its ideas and how much he knew about the startup when
Facebook bought it for $2 billion.
A jury is hearing evidence in a civil lawsuit brought by
videogame publisher ZeniMax Media Inc against Oculus in 2014, in
the middle of the Facebook-Oculus deal. ZeniMax said that Oculus
unlawfully used its intellectual property to develop the
virtual-reality system that includes the Rift headset.
During one heated exchange with ZeniMax lawyer Tony Sammi,
Zuckerberg told a jury in the crowded courtroom that the
technology was not even fully formed when Facebook bought it.
"Improving on that technology doesn't make it yours," Sammi
countered. "If you steal my bike, paint it and put a bell on it,
does that make it your bike?"
Zuckerberg, wearing a dark suit and striped tie rather than his
typical T-shirt and jeans, answered, "no," but then added: "The
idea that Oculus technology is based on someone else's is just
The 32-year-old Facebook founder has spoken about virtual
reality as an important part of the company's future business,
especially as the technology becomes less expensive and its uses
The Oculus acquisition was more expensive than the $2 billion
price tag indicated, Zuckerberg said in court, describing $700
million spent to retain employees and $300 million in payouts
for reaching milestones. Oculus originally wanted $4 billion, he
Sammi questioned whether Facebook knew what it was doing when it
made the acquisition. Zuckerberg said the Oculus deal was done
over a weekend in 2014, which Sammi said did not show sufficient
due diligence. Zuckerberg said, though, in later testimony that
Facebook researched Oculus for months.
At the time, Zuckerberg testified, he was not aware of any theft
claims against Oculus.
"It's pretty common when you announce a big deal that people
just come out of the woodwork and claim they own some part of
the deal," Zuckerberg said.
On the stand, he also gave details about Facebook's $22 billion
purchase of messaging service WhatsApp in 2014. While the deal
was in progress, another company he did not identify made a
last-minute bid that was higher, Zuckerberg said, but WhatsApp
declined because of its good relationship with Facebook.
The Oculus lawsuit, in the sixth day of a jury trial, relates in
part to programmer John Carmack.
Well-known for helping to conceive games such as "Quake" and
"Doom," Carmack worked for id Software LLC before that company
was acquired by ZeniMax. He is now the chief technology officer
Zuckerberg denied that Carmack has unfairly used computer code
from his previous position. "There is no shared code in what we
do," he said.
Zuckerberg said he has been interested in virtual reality since
he was a student, but thought it was decades away from happening
before he encountered Oculus. He told jurors how he used virtual
reality to capture his daughter's first steps, so her
grandparents could experience it later.
"We want to get closer to this kind of perfect representation,
so you can capture a moment you had," he said.
The case is ZeniMax Media Inc et al v. Oculus VR Inc et al, U.S.
District Court for the Northern District of Texas, No.
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.