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John Carmack exits Meta, stating he's 'wearied of the fight' [Update]

After an almost decade-long stint with the former Oculus, the id Software founder is leaving Meta. (Updated with John Carmack's full statement, which provides some much-needed context.)

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Update: John Carmack has issued a full statement on Facebook, citing that his previous statement was abridged by various reports.

Here is the full statement from Carmack's Facebook account. Because a Facebook login is required, here is the full transcript:

I resigned from my position as an executive consultant for VR with Meta. My internal post to the company got leaked to the press, but that just results in them picking a few choice bits out of it. Here is the full post, just as the internal employees saw it:

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This is the end of my decade in VR.

I have mixed feelings.

Quest 2 is almost exactly what I wanted to see from the beginning – mobile hardware, inside out tracking, optional PC streaming, 4k (ish) screen, cost effective. Despite all the complaints I have about our software, millions of people are still getting value out of it. We have a good product. It is successful, and successful products make the world a better place. 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.

The issue is our efficiency.

Some will ask why I care how the progress is happening, as long as it is happening? If I am trying to sway others, I would say that an org that has only known inefficiency is ill prepared for the inevitable competition and/or belt tightening, but really, it is the more personal pain of seeing a 5% GPU utilization number in production. I am offended by it. [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 constantly self-sabotage and squander effort. There is no way to sugar coat this; I think our organization is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy. Some may scoff and contend we are doing just fine, but others will laugh and say “Half? Ha! I’m at quarter efficiency!”

It has been a struggle for me. I have a voice at the highest levels here, so it feels like I should be able to move things, but I’m evidently not persuasive enough. A good fraction of the things I complain about 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. I think my influence at the margins has been positive, but it has never been a prime mover.

This was admittedly self-inflicted – I could have moved to Menlo Park after the Oculus acquisition and tried to wage battles with generations of leadership, but I was busy programming, and I assumed I would hate it, be bad at it, and probably lose anyway. Enough complaining. I wearied of the fight and have my own startup to run, but the fight is still winnable! VR can bring value to most of the people in the world, and no company is better positioned to do it than Meta. Maybe it actually is 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”!


Original story: One of the original pioneers of PC gaming and one of the faces of Meta's VR initiative, John Carmack, has announced that is leaving the company. On Friday, sources reported that Carmack had soured with Meta's direction one time too many and opted to exit the social media giant entirely, but not before expressing his grievances in one final note to the company.

"We built something pretty close to the right thing," Carmack said in a note addressed to Meta, one obtained by Business Insider (via The Verge). "The issue is our efficiency."

The Meta Quest 2

Source: Meta

Carmack is referring to the current iteration of the Quest 2. He noted that VR could still stand to advance, but appeared to cite frequent clashes with Meta's upper management. His note included an indication that he was "wearied of the fight" and has ultimately decided to focus on other pursuits outside of Meta.

Carmack's time with Meta's VR division goes all the way back to 2013 when it was a pre-acquisition Oculus. That was the year he was named Oculus CTO. Even after Oculus was picked up by Facebook, Carmack pledged to remain with the company to help guide it beyond its first Oculus Quest launch. Carmack would clash more than once with the higher-ups at Meta, one example coming in 2018 when he cited that there was no clear strategy for the Oculus Go launch.

Over the years, Carmack had stepped back from his duties at Meta to the point that he settled into a consultant role. Now that he's leaving Meta entirely, it's likely that Carmack will focus on Keen Technologies, which centers around artificial general intelligence. Keen Technologies has already received major contributions from some of the biggest names in tech, including GitHub CEO Nat Friedman, Cue founder Daniel Gross, Stripe co-founder and CEO Patrick Collison, Shopify co-founder and CEO Tobi Lutke, and the Sequoia venture fund.

It should be noted that with Carmack's departure, there aren't many of Oculus' original visionaries left within Meta. Reality Labs Chief Scientist Michael Abrash is one of the few who remain. It should also be noted that Reality Labs is coming off a massive $3.67 billion loss in Q3 2022, which resulted in substantial layoffs.

We'll continue to watch this story, as well as John Carmack's future ventures here at Shacknews. Credit to Chatty's Schnapple for bringing this story to our attention.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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