John Carmack has stepped down as Meta’s chief technology officer, saying the company was “constantly self-sabotaging” their virtual reality efforts and that he was “never able to kill the stupid stuff before it did damage.” Carmack made the comments in an internal memo obtained by Business Insider (subscription required). Carmack says he is now focusing his efforts on his artificial intelligence startup.
After it was leaked, Carmack posted the full text of the memo on Facebook, with some additional context.
“This marks the end of my decade in VR. I have mixed feelings,” Karmak begins. After writing that Quest 2 is “pretty much what I wanted to see in the first place,” he explains that his issue has to do with the company’s “efficiency.”
“We have a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we’re constantly self-sabotaging and struggling. This is not possible in any way using sugar. I think our organization is operating at half the efficiency that would make me happy.
“It was a struggle for me. I have a voice at the highest levels here, so I feel like I should be able to get things moving, but obviously I’m not convincing enough. After all, a good portion of the things I complain about. After a year or two of transitions, I get my way and the evidence piles up, but I’ve never been able to kill the stupid things before they do damage, or set a direction and have the team actually stick to it. I think my influence has been on the fringes. has been positive, but it has never been the main driver.”
While some of these words are harsh, Carmack says the pain comes in part from his years dedicated to writing efficient code. “When you’ve spent most of your life working hard to optimize, seeing something that’s grossly inefficient hurts your soul.” He also adds that it might have been more convincing if he moved to Meta’s headquarters in Menlo Park and did more management than focusing on programming, but that “I assumed I would hate it, be bad at it, and probably lose everything.” case. “.
Karmak’s departure from Meta was predicted long ago. A few years ago, the co-founder of Id Software wrote that he expected the last act of his career to focus on the creation of artificial general intelligence. Earlier this year, his AGI startup Keen Technologies raised $20 million in funding (approx. £16.4 million). Carmack has only been devoting “about 20%” of his time to Meta lately.
Carmack’s departure may be more symbolic than real. Even before joining Meta from ZeniMax, a source of controversy in itself, Carmack has been one of the most prominent figures in the modern virtual reality renaissance. When the original Oculus Rift technology was shown off, it was by Carmack backstage at E3 with a prototype headset and a copy of Doom 3. That he has now left the industry, and games in general, seems end of an era.