As reported by the New York Times (opens in a new tab) (readers may encounter a paywall), John Carmack has left his job at Meta. Carmack was previously CTO of Oculus and remained with the company after it was acquired by Facebook (now Meta) in 2014.
After Carmack’s internal announcement of his departure was leaked to the press, the developer posted it in full to his public Facebook. (opens in a new tab) account, stating “It’s the end of my decade in VR. I have mixed feelings.”
Carmack praises the Quest 2 as hardware, writing that the headset “is almost exactly what I wanted to see all along – mobile hardware, upside-down tracking, optional PC streaming, 4k(ish) display, profitable.” Although Carmack has his doubts about the software, he is encouraged by the sales success and widespread adoption of the Quest line.
“The problem,” writes Carmack, “is our efficiency.” The programmer refers to Meta as “an organization that has known nothing but inefficiency”.
“We have a ridiculous amount of people and resources,” Carmack continues later in the post, “but we’re constantly self-sabotaging and wasting our efforts,” adding that he thinks Meta is “running halfway through.” efficiency that would [him] happy.”
Carmack goes on to explain that while he is an influential voice at Meta, he was never “a main mover”. He seems to indicate that corporate politics was never his specialty, and that he preferred to focus on technology.
The post ends on an optimistic note, however, with Carmack saying that Meta is still poised to lead the world in implementing virtual reality as long as those in the company “make better decisions and fulfill [their] products with ‘Give a Damn!'”
Carmack is best known as one of the co-founders of id Software, where he led the development of the technology behind classics such as Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake, laying much of the foundation for modern 3D rendering. In addition to his developmental contributions at Oculus/Meta, Carmack’s involvement with businesses and advocacy for VR gave credibility to their projects as VR struggled with mass adoption for much of the last decade.
Carmack is now focusing on its startup Keen Technologies (opens in a new tab), presumably named after id’s first series of platforms, Commander Keen. Keen focuses on artificial general intelligence (AGI), a branch of AI focused on mimicking the holistic and adaptable intelligence of a human, as opposed to pursuing narrower applications like generating intelligence. art of AI or graphical and scientific simulations.
It’s hard for me to read this as anything other than a loss for Meta, which comes at an inopportune time for the company. Hardware loss leaders are common in gaming, but in July, Meta’s Reality Lab division was showing nearly $1 billion in losses each month. (opens in a new tab). Meta laid off more than 11,000 employees (opens in a new tab) in November, as political and privacy concerns continue to plague Facebook and Instagram and glimpses of the company’s “metaverse” were widely derided (opens in a new tab).