John Carmack – games legend, virtual reality pioneer and Consulting Chief Technology Officer at Oculus/Facebook/Meta – has announced his resignation from the company.
After prior reports from The New York Times and Business Insider, Carmack took to Twitter to reaffirm his exit from Meta and guide individuals away from “fragmented quotes” after his internal post to the company got leaked.
Carmack published his full memo on Facebook for all to see – and it makes for compelling, frustrating reading.
“This is the end of my decade in VR,” he writes, adding that he has “mixed feelings” but went on to praise Meta’s Quest 2 for being “almost exactly what I wanted to see from the beginning.” Adding that regardless of the “complaints I have about our software, millions of people are still getting value out of it. We have a good product. It is successful, and successful products make the world a better place. It all could have happened a bit faster and been going better if different decisions had been made, but we built something pretty close to The Right Thing.”
Efficiency the issue
The co-founder of Id Software went on add that “the issue is our efficiency.” Zuckerberg previously stated that it’ll take nearly 15 years for the metaverse to become viable but Carmack believes that Meta is inefficient.
“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,” said Carmack.
Adding that Meta has “a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we constantly self-sabotage and squander effort. There is no way to sugar coat this; I think our organization is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy. Some may scoff and contend we are doing just fine, but others will laugh and say “Half? Ha! I’m at quarter efficiency!”
Carmack also touched on the fact that despite having “a voice at the highest levels here,” he should’ve been able to move things and make them happen a lot sooner than they did. Adding that, “A good fraction of the things I complain about eventually turn my way after a year or two passes and evidence piles up, but I have never been able to kill stupid things before they cause damage, or set a direction and have a team actually stick to it. I think my influence at the margins has been positive, but it has never been a prime mover.”
Carmack took to Twitter to add that he’s “always been pretty frustrated with how things get done at [Meta.]” And in a previous podcast interview with Lex Fridman in August, Carmack said that Meta’s $10 billion loss in its AR and VR division made him “sick to [his] stomach thinking about that much money being spent.”
The renowned programmer ended his memo by saying that he’s complained enough. Adding that “I wearied of the fight and have my own startup to run, but the fight is still winnable! VR can bring value to most of the people in the world, and no company is better positioned to do it than Meta. Maybe it actually is possible to get there by just plowing ahead with current practices, but there is plenty of room for improvement.”
Carmack is a legend who is known for giving state of the nation speeches during Meta’s events and if his efforts are not enough to course correct Meta’s ambition of perfecting a virtual space to become the next iteration of the internet, a perfected metaverse is looking further and further away, leaving the company with an uncertain future.