The Facebook stock price today was relatively flat after Thursday's uneventful shareholder meeting - despite an interesting announcement...
Along with Oculus, Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) officially unveiled its virtual reality headset Thursday morning at a San Francisco event. Oculus is the two-year-old startup Facebook acquired in March 2014 in a $2 billion deal.
Dubbed the Rift, the device goes on sale in Q1 2016, Oculus Chief Executive Officer Brendan Iribe said. A price was not revealed, but Oculus previously said that it will sell for less than $1,500.
Rift is strapped over a user's eyes. Then, it takes a user into lifelike 3-D environments.
The headset includes removable headphones, allowing the device to be used in tandem with a user's own headphones. Rift also come with a wireless game controller, originally built for the Microsoft Xbox One game console.
Facebook and Oculus have collaborated with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) to ensure the device will work well with games running on Windows 10. The souped-up operating system will be released July 29 as a free download for anyone running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1. The free update will be available for a year.
Software developers have had access to Rift prototypes for several years. Numerous games will be available for the device in the coming year. The widely popular EVE: Valkyrie from CCP Games and Chronos from Gunfire Games are among those to be offered.
Rift will also offer Oculus Home. Home is a central place where users can peruse offerings, make purchases, play games, and interact with other players. A 2-D version of Oculus Home will be available for use without the headset.
In addition to Rift's unveiling, Oculus demonstrated a prototype of a new virtual reality controller. Called Oculus Touch, the wireless device is held like other controllers and provides haptic feedback. Haptic feedback uses the sense of touch to provide users with information.
Included on Touch controllers is a ring of sensor that detects when users wave or give a thumbs up. The aim of the Touch is to create an extension of a user's own hands. When using Touch, a user will see their own hands in the virtual world.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg touched on virtual reality Thursday at a more serious-toned meeting in Santa Clara, Calif.
Facebook Shareholder Meeting Recap
Before several hundred shareholders, Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg answered a number of shareholder questions and touted Facebook's platforms.
After adding 100 million users over the last three months, Zuckerberg said its Messenger app now has more than 700 million monthly users. Launched as a standalone app in 2011, users must download the app to send and receive private messages.
Zuckerberg said Facebook plans to build on that model for future services.
"You'll see more of that in terms of different audiences and types of content and a continual aiming to be the best way to share the type of content that's important to (users) in any way that's important to them," Zuckerberg said.
Shareholders also saw three proposals voted down. Key among the trio was one urging Facebook to eliminate its "super-voting" stock. Such a move would have significantly shrunk Zuckerberg's control.
The proposal was initiated by activist shareholder Northstar Asset Management.
"What we're asking for is for Facebook to recapitalize the shares so that each share gets one vote," Northstar Asset Management founder and CEO Julie Goodridge told CNBC.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings show Zuckerberg, his co-founders, and early investors control about 74% of the voting power via ownership of Class B stock, giving them 10 votes per share. Zuckerberg personally controls about 55% of the voting power via his 422 million class B shares and voting agreements with other shareholders.
FB shareholders who bought stock in the May 2102 initial public offering, meanwhile, were issued Class A stock. Class A shares entitle just one vote per share.
Northstar purchased Facebook shares at the IPO. It holds about 56,000 Facebook shares, which at the current Facebook stock price are worth just under $5 million.
"I am convinced that shareholders need to be able to have some sort of a say in terms of appropriate corporate governance, especially auditors, who's sitting on the board and other issues around sustainability and you know, electioneering contributions, that sort of thing," Goodridge added.
Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services advised Facebook shareholders to vote in favor of Northstar's proposal.
"Dual-class capital structures can serve to entrench certain shareholders and management, insulating them from possible takeovers or other external influence or action," ISS said.
But with Zuckerberg's controlling interest, FB shareholder votes don't carry much sway.
The Facebook stock price was little changed Friday afternoon, trading down 0.35% to $81.55.
The Facebook stock price is up 4.5% in 2015.
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