John Carmack Quits Meta, Burns His Virtual Bridges Behind Him

John Carmack Quits Meta, Burns His Virtual Bridges Behind Him

Meta’s pivot away from social media and into virtual reality has hit another snag. One of the company’s executives, John Carmack, who helped build Meta’s Oculus company as Chief Technology Officer — is stepping away from Meta amidst frustration over the company’s efficiency.

Carmack stepped into the role of CTO for Oculus (now called Reality Labs) in 2013, and is shutting the door behind him after nearly ten years, having served as consulting CTO since 2019. News broke this weekend of Carmack’s departure after, according to Carmack, he shared an internal memo within the company that was leaked to the press. Carmack shared the entirety of the memo (with one edit) to his Facebook account on Friday evening. In the letter, Carmack describes how he has been satisfied with the technology that Oculus has produced, but is unhappy with the way the company is being run.

“The issue is our efficiency,” Carmack wrote in the letter. He elaborated: “We have a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we constantly self-sabotage and squander effort. There is no way to sugar coat this; I think our organisation is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy.”

Meta did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment on Carmack’s departure.

Carmack explains in a follow-up paragraph the internal friction that even he, as a top executive, felt while trying to guide the company in a more proactive direction:

It has been a struggle for me. I have a voice at the highest levels here, so it feels like I should be able to move things, but I’m evidently not persuasive enough. A good fraction of the things I complain about eventually turn my way after a year or two passes and evidence piles up, but I have never been able to kill stupid things before they cause damage, or set a direction and have a team actually stick to it. I think my influence at the margins has been positive, but it has never been a prime mover.

Meta’s Chief Technology Officer, Andrew Bosworth, responded to Carmack’s letter on Twitter, stating: “[John], it is impossible to overstate the impact you’ve had on our work and the industry as a whole. Your technical prowess is widely known, but it is your relentless focus on creating value for people that we will remember most. Thank you and see you in VR.”

Carmack’s departure comes as Meta faces a continued identity crisis, stuck in purgatory between its VR ventures and its social media past. As the company tries to pivot more and more towards VR, the future of the Metaverse continues to look a bit bleak (and generally ugly).

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