Oculus' Palmer Luckey: living in the future

Mar 27 2014, 10:28am CDT | by

Palmer Luckey woke up this morning a very rich, young (21 years old) man. Hopefully, in the process of changing his financial fortune, he did not also change his residential location. Palmer Luckey, you see, is  not just “lucky,” he has, in fact, a much more reliable explanation for his good fortune: he is living in the future, and, that may just be the real secret to his success.

What could be more advantageous for looking into the future than already living there? The world of innovation is populated by many such people, not content to take the products of the present as they are given, and make the best out of what has been offered. Instead, repeatedly let-down by the industry incumbents who define the state of the art for the rest of us, and who repeatedly disappoint us in the process, these future-dwellers take responsibility for creating the next generation of products and services, themselves. After selling his firm Oculus VR to Facebook earlier this week for $2 billion, Mr. Luckey explained the reason for him getting into the virtual reality goggle business in the first place was nothing more complicated than: “If there had been a perfect headset, I wouldn’t have gotten into virtual reality.”

People living in the future are not content with the status quo. The status quo is all about today and what we can do at present. But, some people are not patient to remain in the present. They are impatient to move into the future, and since existing industry dwellers all too often remain fixed in the present [soon to become the past], in order to harvest profits, preserve cash flows or remain faithful to existing assets, these future-dwellers  take matters into their own hands. Polaroid’s Edwin Land lived in the future, so did FedEx’s Fred Smith and  iPod catalyst Tony Fadell [who sold Nest to Google just last month for $3.2 billion].  Not all of them, by a long-shot, are successful, and many are completely invisible. There were legions of “tinkerers, ” for example,  who took early automobiles, and airplanes, wireless devices and almost any other product you can think about, and made them better, receiving little, if anything, in reward. My friend and Driving Strategic Innovation faculty colleague MIT-Sloan Professor Eric von Hippel is the real pioneer in our recognition and understanding of such individuals — who he calls “lead-users” — and he has pointed out that almost all surgical, dental, banking, agricultural and athletic devices and procedures that you are familiar with were originated by such individuals. Palmer Luckey expressed just such a desire to move an entire field into the future, almost single-handedly, in his blog on “The Future of Virtual Reality” when he admitted: “ My foray into virtual reality was driven by a desire to enhance my gaming experience; to make my rig more than just a window to these worlds, to actually let me step inside them. As time went on, I realized that VR technology wasn’t just possible, it was almost ready to move into the mainstream. All it needed was the right push” and he made it his business to provide this “push.”  Let’s be clear, this was all about his needs, not about a focus group, a market test or even where the industry thought that the “state of the art” presently was. This was also not about his desire to become a player in the industry. None of this, at least at the beginning, what was energizing him. He merely was looking for a better gaming experience. That this all turned turned out to be a $2 billion,  potentially industry-disrupting, venture was not his intention at the start, and it’s entirely possible that he would have been content to help somebody else solve his problem, if only they had asked.

Oculus is in a complex and boundary-shifting space, that  Sony,  with its’ Project Morpheus, and Google with Glass, have also entered as well. No one knows how this competition will play out, nor who will eventually win. We can be sure that  there will undoubtedly be more entrants and, eventually, some spectacular failures as well.   The science-fiction author, William Gibson, has famously observed: “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed” and it’s no surprise that Palmer Luckey is a fan of time-travel and an admirer of another future-dweller, Nikola Tesla.  Finding, trusting and nourishing future-dwelling talent can be an amazing competency for any organization hoping to adjust to an uncertain future in a more nimble manner, and Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR is a big bet on the value of such people in confronting the unknown. But, the bigger message is that right now, while you’re reading this blog, other future-dwellers are frustrated by the offerings that your industry is providing them, and they, too, are involved in subversive activities similar to Oculus VR, in an effort to push your own industry a bit further into a more acceptable future. If only you could find them, then you too would have an edge into the next level of competition.

___________________________________________________

Bill Fischer is the co-director of IMD-MIT/Sloan’s Driving Strategic Innovation program. He is the co-author of Reinventing Giants (with Umberto Lago & Fang Liu) (Jossey-Bass, 2013), The Idea Hunter (with Andy Boynton & Bill Bole)  (Jossey-Bass, 2011), and Virtuoso Teams (with Andy Boynton, FT/Prentice Hall, 2005).

Bill tweets about innovation and China  at @bill_fischer

Source: Forbes Apple

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

A8X Chip of the iPad Air 2 Reportedly Contain Triple Cores
A8X Chip of the iPad Air 2 Reportedly Contains Triple Cores
Along with the triple-core A8X chip, the iPad Air 2 is said to feature the 2GB RAM
 
 
Apple And IBM Unveiling Start Of Their Partnership
Apple And IBM Unveiling Start Of Their Partnership
Next month brings the first part of a fruitful relationship
 
 
Apple Wants 64-bit Apps By February
Apple Wants 64-bit Apps By February
The performance boost will help keep them on top
 
 
Chinese Hackers Claim To Have Hacked iCloud
Chinese Hackers Claim To Have Hacked iCloud
More controversy is surrounding Apple’s cloud platform
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

European Champions League standings
Paris, Oct 22 (IANS) Following are the European Champions League standings for Groups E to H after Tuesday's matches (tabulated under matches played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, against, points), according to Xinhua...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Rogerio set to break Giggs world record
Rio de Janeiro, Oct 22 (IANS) Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni is one victory away from earning his fourth Guinness World Record by eclipsing a mark held by Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs. The 41-year-old will...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Ryan Reynolds can't keep his hands off Blake Lively
Ryan Reynolds was ''really sweet'' to Blake Lively at the Angel City Ball. The couple, who got married in September 2012, made their first red carpet appearance together in New York City on Monday night (10.20.14) since...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kris Jenner doesn't know who Bruce Jenner is dating
Kris Jenner has ''no idea'' whether Bruce Jenner is dating her best friend. The 58-year-old reality TV star, who split from the Olympic gold medallist last October after 23 years of marriage, claims she doesn't know if...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
When Rihanna dressed like 'Harry Potter'
New York, Oct 22 (IANS) Singer Rihanna was spotted here in a Harry Potter style costume. She wore the wizard-like get-up while heading for a business meal here Monday, reports mirror.co.uk. The 26-year-old combined a...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Germany raises humanitarian aid to Iraq
Berlin, Oct 22 (IANS) Germany has pledged a further 20 million euros (about 25.5 million dollars) in humanitarian aid to Iraq, the foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday. The additional funds are immediately...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
India calls on Israel, Palestine to resume peace process
United Nations, Oct 22 (IANS) India has called upon Israelis and Palestinians to resume the peace process as "dialogue remains the only viable option" to address the issues confronting the region. In a brief statement...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Airstrikes help ground forces fight IS: Pentagon
Washington, Oct 22 (IANS) Kurdish forces are in control of the majority of the Syrian city of Kobane despite efforts by the Islamic State (IS) to take the town, a spokesperson for US defence department said Tuesday....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Palestine, Israel urged at UN to halt unilateral initiatives
United Nations, Oct 22 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon Tuesday called on Palestine and Israel to overcome differences and halt unilateral initiatives that fuel mistrust, so as to pursue long-term stability in...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
China urges Israel to create conditions for peace
United Nations, Oct 22 (IANS) Chinese government has called on Israel to create necessary conditions for the resumption of peace talks with Palestine. At an open debate of the Security Council on the situation of the...
Read more on Politics Balla