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TikTok owner ByteDance takes first step into virtual reality with latest acquisition

Panorama of a city business district with office buildings and skyscrapers and superimposed data, charts and diagrams related to stock market, currency exchange and global finance. Blue line graphs with numbers and exchange rates, candlestick charts and financial figures fill the image with a glowing light. Sunset light.

A visitor tries out a VR headset at the booth of Pico Technology during the China 5G and Industrial Internet Conference on Nov. 19, 2020 in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. ByteDance has made its first foray into virtual reality (VR) through the acquisition of start-up Pico.

Zhang Canlong | Visual China Group | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — TikTok owner ByteDance has made its first foray into virtual reality (VR) through the acquisition of a start-up called Pico.

Beijing-headquartered ByteDance did not disclose the size of the deal but said in a statement that Pico’s “comprehensive suite of software and hardware technologies, as well as the talent and deep expertise of the team, will support both our entry to the VR space and long-term investment in this emerging field.”

Pico was the third-largest virtual reality headset maker globally in the first quarter of 2021, with shipments growing 44.7% year-on-year, according to IDC.

ByteDance found success with short video app TikTok and Chinese version Douyin, as well as news aggregation app Toutiao.

Its acquisition of Pico marks a push to diversify its business.

In March, ByteDance acquired a major mobile gaming studio called Moonton for a reported $4 billion, as it looks to expand into gaming.

ByteDance’s acquisition of Pico could pit it against Facebook‘s Oculus VR division. Last year, Apple bought NextVR, a virtual reality company, sparking speculation it could be working on its own VR headsets.

“We are optimistic about the future of VR and its alignment with our mission,” a ByteDance spokesperson said.

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