VR Pioneer John Carmack Leaves Meta, Blasts Company in Memo

Meta’s consulting Chief Technology Officer for its VR/AR business, John Carmack, announced his departure from the company in a rather scathing note posted to an internal Workplace forum on Friday (via Business Insider).

Carmack, a famed video game developer known for his role in co-creating the pioneering “Doom” and “Quake” franchises, joined Oculus in 2013 as CTO. He would later move to a consulting role at the company in 2019.

Carmack’s exit note was a critical indictment of Meta’s lack of “efficiency” in its VR/AR efforts, in which he called the decision to leave “the end of his decade in VR.”

“We built something pretty close to The Right Thing,” Carmack admitted in his note. “The issue is our efficiency.”

Overall, Carmack wasn’t satisfied with the current state of VR at Meta or how it is progressing. “There is no way to sugar coat this; I think our organization is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy,” he said.

Carmack knocked Meta for taking too long to make the right decisions, despite Carmack advocating for them. He said that a good fraction of the things he complained about would “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.”

Meta continues to put billions into CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for the metaverse, which AR/VR is integral to, despite trimming budgets, scrapping projects, and laying off thousands of employees across the company — much to shareholders’ chagrin.

“I wearied of the fight and have my own startup to run, but the fight is still winnable!” Carmack added in his note.

The startup Carmack referred to is Keen Technologies, a company he founded earlier this year that focuses on developing AI technologies.

“VR can bring value to most of the people in the world, and no one is better positioned to do it than Meta. Maybe it is actually possible to get there by just plowing ahead with current practices, but there is plenty of room for improvement. Make better decisions and fill your products with ‘Give a Damn!'” the gaming industry legend concluded in his note.

During Meta’s developer conference back in October, Carmack said he was disappointed to see that even people from within Meta didn’t want to use the company’s Quest 2 headsets for work or show them off to other people because they found the headsets unreliable.

“It pains me to hear people say that they don’t even get their headset out to show off at the company because they know it’s going to be a mess of charging and updating before they can make it do something cool,” Carmack said at the time. “VR should be a delight to demo for your friends.”

You can head over to Business Insider to read Carmack’s full memo.