Virtual Reality Pioneer John Carmack is Leaving Meta, Criticises Corporation
A well-known video game designer who helped Facebook expand into virtual reality has quit the company that owns the social networking site because he is unhappy with how the technology is being handled.
In a letter sent on Friday, John Carmack broke ties with Meta Platforms, a holding company started by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg last year. In the letter, he expressed his frustration with his job as a virtual reality executive consultant.
“There is no way to sugar coat this; I think our organization is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy,” Carmack wrote in the letter, which he shared on Facebook. “Some may scoff and contend we are doing just fine, but others will laugh and say, ‘Half? Ha! I’m at quarter efficiency!'”
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When The Associated Press asked about Carmack’s resignation and comments, Meta sent them a tweet from Andrew Bosworth, its chief technology officer and head of its reality labs. “It is impossible to overstate the impact you’ve had on our work and the industry as a whole,” Bosworth wrote in his grateful tweet addressed to Carmack.
Carmack’s departure comes at a time when Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is fighting against the widespread belief that he has wasted billions of dollars trying to set up the Menlo Park, California-based company in the “metaverse,” an artificial world where avatars of real people live.
While metaverse losses have been going up, Facebook and related services like Instagram have seen a drop in advertising, which is the main source of revenue for the company. Fears of a recession, tougher competition from other social networking services like TikTok, and privacy controls on Apple’s iPhone that make it harder to track people’s interests to help sell ads have all contributed to the decline.
Meta’s stock has lost almost two-thirds of its value so far this year because of these problems. This has wiped out about $575 billion in shareholder wealth.
I resigned from Meta, and my internal post got leaked to the press, resulting in some fragmented quotes. Here is the full thing: https://t.co/iUcr8TYMLD
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) December 17, 2022
Even though Carmack had only been working part-time at Meta, his disappointment is likely to raise more questions about Zuckerberg’s plans to make virtual reality as popular as social networking has been since he started Facebook while he was at Harvard University almost 20 years ago.
In 2014, when Facebook spent $2 billion to buy headset maker Oculus, Zuckerberg really started to look into virtual reality. At the time, Carmack was the CTO of Oculus. After the deal was done, he moved to Facebook. Carmack was best known as the co-creator of the video game Doom before he joined Oculus.
Now, federal regulators are trying to limit Zuckerberg’s influence in virtual reality by stopping him from buying Within Unlimited, a company that makes a fitness app for the metaverse.
I’m gutted to hear John Carmack is leaving Meta. He’s one of the original believers in modern VR. His talks at Connect were always a highlight for me, he told it how it was without the sugar coating. Thank you for all your hard work, VR wouldn’t be where it is now without you. pic.twitter.com/Sntp310F7k
— Mike VRO (@vr_oasis) December 17, 2022
Carmack testified about the deal earlier this week in a court case between the Federal Trade Commission and Meta. The case is about what will happen with the deal. The trial, which will start up again on Monday in San Jose, California, is likely to have Zuckerberg testify at some point.
In his resignation letter, Carmack praised Meta’s latest virtual reality headset, the Quest 2, even though he was unhappy with how things were going at the company. He said that the headset was “almost exactly what I wanted from the beginning” of his time at Oculus.
“It is successful, and successful products make the world a better place,” Carmack said of Quest 2. “It all could have happened a bit faster and been going better if different decisions had been made, but we built something pretty close to The Right Thing.”
But Carmack ended his letter with this entreaty: “Maybe it actually is possible to get there by just ploughing ahead with current practises, but there is plenty of room for improvement. Make better decisions and fill your products with ‘Give a Damn!'”
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