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John Carmackthe programmer who brought us Doom, Quake, and Oculus/Meta VR products, has Resign From his Virtual Reality Executive Consultant position at Meta.
In a post to employees, Carmack said: “This is the end of my 10-year career in VR. I have mixed feelings.”
Carmack joined Oculus’ VR team in 2013, leaving his job at Bethesda’s id Software to transition from traditional gaming to VR. He continued to work after then-Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014 for $4 billion. In 2019, he stepped down as CTO of Oculus to take on a consulting role.
“Quest 2 is pretty much exactly what I wanted to see from the start – mobile hardware, inside-out tracking, optional PC streaming, 4K (ish) screen, cost-effective,” he wrote. “Despite all my complaints about our software, millions of people are getting value out of it. We have a good product. It’s successful, and a successful product makes the world a better place. Had a different decision been made, It all could have happened a little faster and progressed better, but we built something that was pretty close to being right.”
He said the problem was the efficiency of the company.He says that an organization that only knows inefficiency “is ill-prepared for the inevitable competition and/or belt tightening, but actually seeing 5% GPU utilization numbers in production is a much more personal pain. It offends.” (In a facebook postCarmack said he was “too poetic here.”
“We have a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we are constantly self-sabotaging and wasting effort,” Carmack said. “There’s no way to sugarcoat this; I think our organization is operating at half the efficiency that makes me happy. Some people might laugh at us Well done, but other people will laugh and say ‘half? Ha! I’m only a quarter effective!”
He said it’s been a struggle for him, and while he has a voice at the top, he feels he should be able to move things forward. He says he’s “never been able to kill stupid things before they do damage, or set a direction and get a team to actually stick to it.” He calls it self-inflicted because he never moved to the door where Meta was Lo Park. But he said he was busy programming and would probably lose the leadership battle anyway.
“Enough complaining,” he said. “I’m tired of fighting and have my own startup to run, but battles can still be won! VR can bring value to most people in the world, and there’s no company better suited to do it than Meta. Maybe just keep pushing the current approach, it is actually possible to achieve this goal, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.”
Back in August, Carmack tweets His Keen Technologies raised $20 million. Meta CTO Andrew “Boz” Bosworth thanked Carmack for his tweet.
Carmack was often critical of his boss in internal and external communications. He’s also frequently bashed Bethesda owner ZeniMax Media, which bought id Software in 2009. ZeniMax and id sued Oculus and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey in 2014 for alleged misappropriation of trade secrets. The complaint points to Carmack’s role in helping Oculus while working for ZeniMax. The lawsuit was settled in 2018.
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