Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg regularly acts as a Silicon Valley ambassador to world leaders.A usual stop on his tour takes visiting dignitaries into the virtual world.
Zuckerberg frequently gives demonstrations of the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset to presidents and diplomats, said Brendan Iribe, the head of Facebook’s Oculus unit. In September, Zuckerberg hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., and has also met with U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“Whenever a president visits, he takes them right into Oculus Toybox and shows them the latest demos,” Iribe said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang. The Toybox allows users to set off virtual fireworks and play ping-pong.
After Facebook acquired Oculus for about $2 billion in 2014, Zuckerberg has been a crucial advocate, Iribe said. “It was a moment where Mark got up and said, ‘VR is the next platform,’ ” Iribe said. “Suddenly, everyone took notice.” He said Zuckerberg’s declaration helped the company get game developers and movie studios to create content for the system, bringing the business further along than it probably would have gotten on its own.