John Carmack Leaves Meta, Says ‘This Is The End Of My Decade In VR’

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Photo: Bloomberg (fake images)

John Carmack, legendary game designer, rocket type and virtual reality enthusiast, has announced that he is leaving Meta/Facebook and the virtual reality business itself, after a decade as one of its most prominent champions.

by carmack position was like a executive consultant. Having initially sent his farewell message to colleagues in an internal memo, when it was partly leaked to the media, he decided to post everything, including some clarifications, on his Facebook page.

Here it is in its entirety:

This is the end of my decade in VR.

I have mixed feelings.

Quest 2 is pretty much exactly what I wanted to see from the start: mobile hardware, inside-out tracking, optional PC streaming, 4k display (sort of), cost-effective. Despite all the complaints I have about our software, millions of people still get value from it. We have a good product. It’s successful, and successful products make the world a better place. It could all have happened a little faster and gone better if different decisions had been made, but we built something pretty much like The Right Thing.

The problem is our efficiency.

Some will ask why I care how progress is happening, as long as it is happening.

If I’m trying to influence others, I’d say an organization that has only known inefficiency isn’t prepared for the inevitable competition and/or belt-tightening, but really, it’s the more personal pain of seeing a GPU utilization number 5% in production. I am offended by that.

[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 waste effort. There’s no sugarcoating this; I think our organization is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy. Some may scoff and claim that we’re doing it right, but others will laugh and say “Half? Say oh! I’m in an efficiency room!”

It has been a struggle for me. I have a voice at the highest levels here, so it sounds like I should be able to move things around, but I’m clearly not persuasive enough. A good fraction of the things I complain about eventually come back to me after a year or two pass and the evidence accumulates, but I’ve never been able to kill stupid things before they do damage, or set a direction and make a team really stick to it. that. I think my influence on margins has been positive, but it’s never been a major driver.

Admittedly, this was self-inflicted: I could have moved to Menlo Park after the Oculus acquisition and tried to do battle with generations of leaders, but I was busy programming and assumed I’d hate it, be bad at it, and probably lose. anyway.

Stop complaining. I’ve had enough of the fight and have my own startup to run, but the fight can still be won! Virtual reality can bring value to the majority of people in the world, and no company is better positioned to do so than Meta. Maybe it’s actually possible to get there just by sticking with current practices, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Make better choices and fill your products with “Give a Damn”!

As his clarification says, while his comments may seem damning, they are not necessarily related to the individual people he worked with or the decisions made above him. It’s more about his clear passion for the idea of ​​optimization itself, a structural and systemic problem that, in a company as big as Meta, could have been maddening for a guy used to writing code and launching rockets into space. .

Normally this would be the part of a story where I would throw in some guesswork, maybe how such a high-profile departure could spell trouble for Meta’s efforts in the space, but lol, I think Meta is doing a good job of shouting that from the rooftops..

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