The departure of John Carmack, a virtual reality pioneer who joined then-Facebook more than eight years ago, highlights the growing pains of a social-networking giant pivoting hard to the metaverse.
Carmack, 52, who has criticized the decision-making and strategy of Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s chief technology officer, laid out his beefs boldly in an internal post last week.
“It has been a struggle for me,” wrote Carmack, who called out the move to the immersive world of the metaverse as one bedeviled by bureaucracy, concerns over diversity and security, and a “ridiculous amount of people and resources.”
The former chief technology officer of Oculus, the VR company that Facebook snapped up for $2 billion in 2014, is an expert in the development of VR headsets yet found himself a dissenting voice as Zuckerberg decided to make the shift to the metaverse last year and rename Facebook as Meta.
“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,” wrote Carmack,
Losing Carmack removes a high-profile dissenting voice but also a specialist in a field that requires expertise and gobs of resources. Because Meta does not make a lot of hardware, it spent months trying to get its Ray-Bans camera-equipped glasses to work with Apple’s iPhone, according to a report in The Information.
Meta finds itself at a dangerous crossroads in its quest to lead a new era in computing. It is likely to face competition from rivals Apple Inc.
and Alphabet Inc.’s
Google in the near future, while at the same time fighting the Federal Trade Commission in court over its intended acquisition of Within, the maker of a VR fitness app called Supernatural. Last week, Carmack testified in a court hearing in that matter.
Perhaps what galled Carmack most, however, was the $10 billion that Meta lost from the business division that includes VR/AR during its most-recently reported fiscal quarter, in which the company recorded its first sales decline since it went public in 2012. Meta has since said it is shedding about 11,000 employees, or 13% of its workforce, in its largest layoff ever.
The $10 billion loss made Carmack “sick to my stomach,” he said in a podcast interview in August.
Meta was not immediately available for comment.
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