John Carmack Sends a Memorandum to Meta: Despite joining Meta from virtual reality pioneer Oculus after its $2 billion acquisition, John Carmack has since left the company. Business Insider was the first to reveal his resignation; they cited anonymous sources familiar with the firm and published excerpts from an internal memo he had written that were critical of Meta and its augmented and virtual reality projects. Carmack stated on Twitter and Facebook that he is really quitting the company and published his email to staff employees in full after rumors appeared in Insider and The New York Times.
Carmack wrote in his message, “This is the end of my decade in VR.” He began by saying that the Quest 2 headset was everything he’d “wanted to see from the beginning,” thanks to its inside-out tracking, PC streaming options, low price, and nearly 4K resolution display. He insisted that “things could have transpired a bit faster and been doing better if different judgments had been taken.”
Based on his memo, it appears that Carmack has the most serious problems with Meta’s inefficiency. We have an absurd number of people and resources, but we continually destroy ourselves and waste time and energy, he wrote. There’s no point in beating around the bush: I estimate that our group is only functioning at half the efficiency that would make me pleased.
The executive claimed that he was “evidently not persuasive enough” despite being “a voice at the highest levels” who should have been able to advance the situation. Carmack didn’t provide specific examples, but he did say that he often didn’t get his way on complaints until after evidence had accumulated for a year or two. Moreover, “I have never been able to kill dumb things before they cause damage or define a direction and have a team actually commit to it,” he said. Even though he was “wearied of the fight,” Carmack said at the end of the memo that “VR can deliver benefit to most of the people in the world, and no firm is better positioned to achieve it than Meta.”
In a tweet, the CEO said that he had “always been quite upset with how things get done at [Meta].” Back in August, he talked about the company’s AR and VR division’s $10 billion loss on a podcast with Lex Fridman, saying it made him “sick to [his] stomach thinking about so much money being spent.” On an internal Meta forum, he vented his frustration with the company’s headphones and the mandatory software updates. Apparently, he was also encouraging Meta to prioritize the needs of its current users while it develops its vision for the future of the metaverse.
After leaving id Software, where he co-created the Doom and Quake series, Carmack joined Oculus in 2013 as its first chief technology officer. At the time of Facebook’s 2014 $2 billion acquisition of Oculus, he had just started working for Meta. He stepped down from his role as CTO of Oculus in 2019 to work on Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), or AI capable of doing human activities. His company, Keen Technologies, is creating artificially intelligent technologies of this kind.
I resigned from Meta, and my internal post got leaked to the press, resulting in some fragmented quotes. Here is the full thing: https://t.co/iUcr8TYMLD
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) December 17, 2022
A Leader in Virtual Reality Is Leaving Meta
According to a business post examined by The New York Times, virtual reality pioneer John Carmack has decided to leave Meta after more than eight years.
Mr. Carmack, a 52-year-old technology expert, wrote a piece in which he expressed dissatisfaction with his workplace. According to him, Meta, a corporation in the process of shifting its focus from social networking to the immersive environment of the metaverse, is only functioning at “half the effectiveness” despite having “a tremendous amount of people and resources, yet we continuously self-sabotage and squander effort.”
Mr. Carmack added, “It has been a battle for me,” in the post, which was released this week on an internal forum. Despite the fact that my opinion is heard at the highest levels of this organization, nothing seems to change despite my best efforts.
Mr. Carmack was one of the most significant voices directing the development of V.R. headsets as the former chief technical officer of Oculus, the virtual reality firm that Facebook bought for $2 billion in 2014. He continued with the company even after CEO Mark Zuckerberg refocused Facebook on the metaverse and changed the name to Meta.
Meta was making rapid progress in Mr. Carmack’s area of expertise, but he was occasionally a dissenting voice regarding the direction the project was taking. He gained notoriety for postings within the company that was critical of Mr. Zuckerberg and Meta’s CTO, Andrew Bosworth. In recent years, Mr. Carmack has been providing the company with a portion of his time.
When asked for comment, neither Mr. Carmack nor Meta provided a response. The departure of Mr. Carmack had been previously revealed by Insider.
Spending on the metaverse and a slowdown in social networking and digital advertising have taken a significant financial toll on Meta. The Silicon Valley firm reported its first drop in revenue since going public in July. Meta announced last month that it will be cutting off roughly 11,000 workers, or about 13 percent of its workforce, in what amounted to the company’s most dramatic job layoffs to date.
Mr. Carmack expressed his dismay with Meta’s $10 billion loss in the division housing its augmented reality and virtual reality ambitions in a podcast interview back in August. bureaucracy and worries about diversity and privacy, he said, have plagued the company’s metaverse initiatives.
Mr. Carmack has questioned aspects of the company’s Quest VR headsets in earlier posts from this year, which were viewed by The Times. In his final blog entry, he praised the Quest 2 headset for being “nearly precisely what I expected to see from the outset” in terms of price and portable technology.
What we produced was “very near to The Right Thing,” he added.
In his statement, Mr. Carmack explained that after ten years in virtual reality, he had “wearied of the fight” and was shifting his emphasis to his own start-up. (In August, he said that his AI company, Keen Technologies, had secured $20 million in funding.)
He concluded that “no firm is better positioned than Meta” to realize the potential of virtual reality to improve the lives of the vast majority of people throughout the globe.
Even before he created Meta, Mr. Carmack was a forerunner in several areas of computer graphics that would later prove important to games like Quake. He joined Oculus in 2013 as its CTO but left that position in 2019, switching to part-time status.
This week Mr. Carmack also testified in a court hearing over the FTC’s attempt to prohibit Meta’s acquisition of Within, the virtual reality startup responsible for the fitness game Supernatural. The government agency is concerned that the IT behemoth will eliminate any and all competition in the developing metaverse if it is allowed to close the purchase. The hearing will likely resume the following week.