John Carmack Leaves Meta

John Carmack is departing Meta, where he was working on making the promise of virtual reality come true. Carmack joined Meta forebear Oculus VR in 2013 as CTO. Later that year he departed id Software, where he had been instrumental in the creation of DOOM and Quake over the years. In a post on Facebook (thanks Robert), the famed programmer expresses frustration with the bureaucratic nature of Meta, saying the experience working there leaves him "wearied of the fight" to bring value to virtual reality. He adds that this fight is "still winnable," but he is turning his full attention to the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence at his startup Keen Technologies. That said, he does call the Quest 2 "something pretty close to The Right Thing." Here's a bit on his frustration with the lack of efficiency he's had to deal with:
We have 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!”

It has been a struggle for me. 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. 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.

This was admittedly self-inflicted – I could have moved to Menlo Park after the Oculus acquisition and tried to wage battles with generations of leadership, but I was busy programming, and I assumed I would hate it, be bad at it, and probably lose anyway.

Enough complaining. 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.

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