Virtual reality pioneer John Carmack is leaving Meta

John Carmack, a pioneer in virtual reality technology, is leaving Meta after more than eight years with the company, according to an internal post verified by The New York Times.

In the post, by Mr. Carmack, 52, the technologist criticized his employer. He said Meta, which is in the process of evolving from a social networking company into one focused on the immersive world of the Metaverse, is operating at “semi-effectiveness” and has “a ridiculous amount of people and resources , but we are constantly ourselves – sabotage and waste of effort.”

“It’s been a struggle for me,” Mr. Carmack wrote in the post, which was published on an internal forum this week. “I have a top-level voice here, so it feels like I should be able to make things happen, but I’m obviously not convincing enough.”

As the former Chief Technology Officer of Oculus, the virtual reality company that Facebook bought for $2 billion in 2014, Mr. Carmack has been one of the most influential voices spearheading the development of VR headsets. He stayed with Facebook after Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO, decided last year to focus the company on the Metaverse and rebranded Facebook to Meta.

However, although Meta was quickly moving into an area that Mr. Carmack specialized in, he was at times a dissenting voice on how the effort was going. He is best known for internal posts detailing the decision making and direction of Mr. Zuckerberg and Meta’s Chief Technology Officer Andrew Bosworth. Mister. Carmack had worked part-time for the company for the past several years.

Mister. Carmack and Meta did not respond to requests for comment. Insiders previously reported Mr. Carmack’s departure.

Meta’s revenue was hit hard by spending on the Metaverse and slowing growth in social media and digital advertising. In July, the Silicon Valley company saw its first revenue decline as a public company. Last month, Meta announced that it laid off about 11,000 employees, or about 13 percent of its workforce, making up the company’s most significant job cuts.

In a podcast interview in August, Mr. Carmack said Meta’s $10 billion loss at the time in the division housing his augmented reality and virtual reality initiatives made him “stomach sick.” He added that the company’s Metaverse efforts have been hampered by red tape and dogged by diversity and privacy concerns.

In other stories seen by The Times this year, Mr. Carmack said criticized features of the company’s Quest virtual reality headsets. In his farewell post, he praised the Quest 2 headset as “almost exactly what I wanted to see from the start” in terms of cost and mobile hardware, although he was still critical of the software.

“We built something that’s pretty close to The Right Thing,” he said.

Mister. Carmack’s post, saying he was finishing his decade in VR, concluded by saying he was “fight weary” and will focus on his own startup. (He announced in August that his artificial intelligence company, Keen Technologies, had done so Raised $20 million.)

“VR can bring value to most people in the world, and no company is better positioned to do so than Meta,” he wrote.

Prior to Meta, Mr. Carmack pioneered various techniques in computer graphics that became crucial to the games he created, including Quake. He joined Oculus in 2013 as Chief Technology Officer and stepped down from that position in 2019 to move into a part-time role.

Mister. carmack also witnessed this week in a court hearing over the Federal Trade Commission’s attempt to block Meta’s purchase of Within, the virtual reality startup behind a fitness game called Supernatural. The agency has argued that if the tech giant is allowed to close the deal, it will wipe out competition in the nascent metaverse. The hearing is scheduled to continue next week.

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