John Carmack has left his position as CTO at Meta, saying the company is “constantly self-sabotaging” in its VR efforts and has “never been able to kill stupid things before they do damage.” Carmack made the comments in an internal memo that was leaked to Business Insider (requires subscription). Carmack says that he is now focusing his efforts on his artificial intelligence startup.
After the leak happened, Carmack posted the full text of the note to Facebookwith some additional context.
“This is the end of my decade in VR. I have mixed feelings,” Carmack begins. After writing that Quest 2 “is almost exactly what I wanted to see from the start”, he explains that his problem is with the “efficiency” of the company.
“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.”
“It’s been a struggle for me. I have a voice at the highest levels here, so I feel 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 change. on my way after a year or two and the evidence mounts, but I’ve never been able to kill stupid things before they do damage, or set a direction and make a team really stick with it.. been positive, but never It’s been a prime mover.”
While some of these words are harsh, Carmack says the pain stems in part from his years spent writing efficient code. “When you’ve been working hard on optimization for most of your life, seeing something that’s grossly inefficient hurts your soul.” He also adds that he could have been more persuasive if he had moved to Meta’s Menlo Park headquarters and become more committed to leadership rather than focusing on programming, but that “I assumed he would hate it, be bad at it and probably I would lose anyway.” .”
Carmack’s departure from Meta has long been heralded. Several years ago, the id Software co-founder wrote that he expected the last act of his career to focus on creating artificial general intelligence. Earlier this year, his AGI startup, Keen Technologies raised $20 million in funding (about £16.4 million). Carmack had recently only been spending “about 20%” of his time in Meta.
Carmack’s departure could have more symbolic than real significance. Even before joining Meta from ZeniMax, itself a source of controversy – Carmack has been one of the most prominent faces of the modern VR renaissance. When the original Oculus Rift technology was shown to the press, it was Carmack in a back room at E3 with a makeshift prototype headset and a copy of Doom 3. That it has now left the industry and gaming in general behind, it feels like the end of an era.
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