May 1, 2019

Virtual reality gets its next, best chance

Oculus' Sean Liu announces pre-orders for the Rift S and Quest headsets. Photo: Facebook

While much of the focus at Facebook's F8 conference was on the changes it's making to the core platform and its messaging apps, its moves in virtual reality highlight a new wave of products coming to market.

Why it matters: The last coming of VR fell far short of estimates. HTC, Valve and Facebook's Oculus all have new and improved hardware, but it's unclear whether consumers and content developers are ready to take another plunge.

  • Aware of this, both HTC and Oculus are taking aim at businesses as well, with Facebook using F8 to announce a renewed Oculus for Business effort.
  • While not as flashy as the consumer market, there has been steady interest in VR and augmented reality from businesses looking to improve training, prototyping and safety.

Driving the news:

  • Facebook yesterday announced pre-orders for its standalone Oculus Quest and its PC-based Rift S, both of which sell for $399, plus its relaunch of Oculus for Business focused on the standalone Oculus Go and Quest headsets.
  • Valve's high-end, PC-based Index headset goes on sale Wednesday for $999, challenging the Vive Pro at the high-end of the gaming market.
  • Meanwhile, HTC's $799 Vive Focus Plus went on sale April 15, offering improved optics and 6-degrees-of-freedom control in a standalone headset aimed at enterprise customers.

Our thought bubble: New hardware is nice, but it's hard to see the consumer market, in particular, taking off until we get a convergence of affordable, powerful headsets and content.

Go deeper

Situational awareness

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren supporters form super PAC
  2. We may be on "the brink" of coronavirus pandemic
  3. Pentagon policy chief resigns
  4. National polls show Bernie in control ahead of Nevada
  5. How a Chinese think tank rates all 50 U.S. governors
  6. Sanders and Bloomberg battle over heart health

Trump has declared war on sanctuary cities

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Armed with subpoenas, lawsuits and immigration SWAT teams, the Trump administration has declared war on sanctuary cities.

The big picture: President Trump and his administration have used every available tool to try to crack down on local governments that refuse to hold immigrants in criminal custody, block immigration agents from working in county jails or deny federal authorities access to immigrants' records.

Peter Thiel's Founders Fund isn't really Peter Thiel's Founders Fund

Illustration: Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Charles Eshelman, Steve Jennings, and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Founders Fund has raised $3 billion for a pair of new funds, so expect a slew of headlines about how "Peter Thiel's venture capital firm" is now flush with cash.

Behind the scenes: Thiel is essential to Founders Fund, but he's not autocratic. Instead, Axios has learned that he's one of three people with veto power over most FF investments, and is unable to do a deal without approval of the other two.