John Carmack leaves Meta, “It’s the end of my decade in VR”

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John Carmac, legendary game designer, rocket guy and VR enthusiast, announced he was leaving both Meta/Facebook and the VR business itself, after a decade as one of its most prominent champions.

by Carmack position was like a executive consultant. After initially sending his farewell message to his colleagues in an internal memo, when part of it leaked to the media, he decided to post the whole thing, including some clarifications, on his Facebook page instead.

Here it is in full:

It’s the end of my decade in VR.

I have mixed feelings.

Quest 2 is almost exactly what I wanted to see from the start – mobile hardware, reverse tracking, optional PC streaming, 4k(ish) screen, cost effective. Despite all the complaints I have about our software, millions of people are still benefiting from it. We have a good product. It’s a success, and successful products make the world a better place. Everything could have happened a little faster and better if different decisions had been made, but we built something quite close to The Right Thing.

The problem is our efficiency.

Some will ask why do I care how progress happens, as long as it happens?

If I try to influence others, I would say that an organization that has known nothing but inefficiency is ill-prepared for the inevitable competition and/or belt-tightening, but in reality, it is the most personal pain to see a 5% GPU usage count in production. I’m offended.

[edit: I was being overly poetic here, as several people have missed the intention. As a systems optimization person, I care deeply about efficiency. When you work hard at optimization for most of your life, seeing something that is grossly inefficient hurts your soul. I was likening observing our organization’s performance to seeing a tragically low number on a profiling tool.]

We have a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we are constantly sabotaging ourselves and wasting our efforts. There’s no way to sugar coat this; I think our organization is operating at half the efficiency that would make me happy. Some may scoff and claim we’re doing just fine, but others will laugh and say, “Half? Ha! I’m at quarter efficiency!

It was a struggle for me. I have a voice at the highest level here, so I feel like I should be able to get things done, but I’m obviously not persuasive enough. A lot of the things I complain about end up going my way after a year or two of it and the evidence is mounting, but I’ve never been able to kill stupid things before they do damage, or set a direction and have a team stick to it. he. I think my influence at the margins has been positive, but it has never been a driving force.

It was admittedly self-inflicted – I could have moved to Menlo Park after the Oculus acquisition and tried to fight battles with generations of leaders, but I was busy programming, and I assumed I hate it, that I’d be bad and probably lose anyway.

Enough complaints. I got tired of the fight and I have my own startup to launch, but the fight is always winnable! Virtual reality can bring value to most people around the world, and no company is better positioned to do so than Meta. It may be possible to get there by simply continuing to follow current practices, but there is plenty of room for improvement.

Make better decisions and fill your products with “Give a Damn”!

As his clarification indicates, while his comments may seem damning, they are not necessarily tied to individual people he worked with or decisions made above him. They’re more about his obvious passion for the idea of ​​optimization itself, a structural and systemic issue that, in a company as big as Meta, could have been infuriating for a guy used to writing code and launching rockets into space.

This would normally be the part of a story where I would drop some guesswork, maybe how such a high profile departure could cause problems for Meta’s efforts in space, but lol, I think Meta does a pretty good job shouting this from the rooftops themselves.

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