Frustrated virtual reality pioneer leaves Facebook’s parent, ET BrandEquity

96332309Representative image (iStock)


Representative Image (iStock)

A prominent video game maker who helped lead Facebook’s expansion into virtual reality has resigned from the social networking service’s parent company after becoming disillusioned with how the technology is being managed.

John Carmack severed his ties with Meta Platforms, a holding company founded last year by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, in a Friday letter expressing his frustration while drenching as an executive consultant in virtual reality.

“There is no way to reconcile 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 might scoff and say we’re doing fine, but others will laugh and say, ‘Half? Ha! I’m on quarter efficiency!'”

In response to a question about CarmackFollowing Meta’s firing and comments, Meta sent The Associated Press on Saturday a tweet from its chief technology officer and head of its reality labs, Andrew Bosworth. “It is impossible to overstate the impact you have had on our work and the industry as a whole,” Bosworth wrote in his appreciative tweet directed to Carmack.

Carmack’s departure comes at a time when Zuckerberg, meta‘s CEO, battles against the widely held perception that he has wasted billions of dollars trying to establish the Menlo Park, California company in the “metaverse” – an artificial world filled with avatars of real people.

As metaverse losses mount, Facebook and affiliate services such as Instagram have experienced a pullback in advertising that provides the bulk of the company’s revenue. The decline has been driven by a combination of recession fears, tougher competition from other social networking services like TikTok, and privacy controls on Apple’s iPhone that have made it more difficult to track people’s interests to help sell ads.

Those challenges have caused Meta’s stock to lose nearly two-thirds of its value so far this year, wiping out approximately $575 billion in shareholder wealth.

While Carmack only worked part-time at Meta, the dismay he expressed seems likely to reinforce the questions that loom. Zuckerberg‘s efforts to become as dominant in virtual reality as Facebook has been in social networking since he started the service nearly 20 years ago while a student at Harvard University.

Zuckerberg began exploring virtual reality in earnest in 2014 with Facebook’s $2 billion purchase of headset maker Oculus. Carmack was Oculus’ chief technology officer at the time and joined Facebook after the deal closed. Prior to joining Oculus, Carmack was best known as the co-creator of the video game Doom.

Federal regulators are now trying to limit Zuckerberg’s reign in virtual reality by preventing him from buying Within Unlimited, a fitness app designed for the metaverse.

Carmack testified earlier this week in a Federal Trade Commission trial against Meta over the fate of the deal. Zuckerberg is expected to testify at some point in the trial, which resumes Monday in San Jose, California.

Despite his frustration with the way things are going at Meta, Carmack praised his latest virtual reality headset, the Quest 2, in his letter of resignation. He described the headset as “almost exactly what I wanted to see from the beginning” of his Oculus tenure.

“It’s successful, and successful products make the world a better place,” Carmack said of the Quest 2. “It could have gone a little faster and could have gone better if other decisions had been made, but we’ve built something that’s pretty close to at The Right Thing.”

But Carmack ended his letter with this plea: “It may actually be possible to get there just by plowing through with current practices, but there is plenty of room for improvement. Make better decisions and fill your products with ‘Give a Damn! ‘”

In an opening statement, FTC attorney Abby Dennis said the acquisition of Within was part of Meta’s bid to acquire new and more diverse virtual reality users, including customers of Within’s popular subscription-based virtual reality workout app Supernatural. That would complement Meta’s existing virtual reality users, who tend to skew young and male and are more focused on gaming, Dennis added.


The FTC’s challenge to Meta’s acquisition reflects bureau chairperson Lina Khan’s aggressive stance on big tech and antitrust.

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  • Published December 19, 2022 at 9:40 AM IST

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