John Carmack has left Meta after a decade as the consulting CTO for VR. Carmack said he left because the management squanders efforts and self-sabotages the potential for VR in a way that made him unhappy. He complained that Meta is staffed by highly resourceful and intelligent people, but they have not maximized the efficiency needed to take the company and its products to the next level.
Carmack joined Oculus as CTO in 2013 and then joined Meta when the company – as Facebook – acquired Oculus in 2014. He worked on classic games such as Doom and Quake and was generally respected as a progressive technologist with a vision to revolutionize the artificial intelligence industry via VR.
He will not be running his new company, Keen Technologies.
According to an internal letter he wrote to Meta management upon leaving, Carmack said the company was operating at half its effectiveness, and he had a problem with that. He said his suggestions were not given much attention until it was almost late and when events had vindicated him. He noted that Meta remains the best company to develop and push VR into the market if only they would up their game.
“We have a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we constantly self-sabotage and squander the effort,” Carmack said. “There is no way to sugarcoat this; I think our organization is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy. 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.”
Carmack stated that his influence had not been strong enough to make teams work at full capacity; and that the management had not helped to expedite things on his behalf when he moved things.
“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,” he said. “I think my influence at the margins has been positive, but it has never been a prime mover.”
Carmack had often criticized Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and CTO Andrew Bosworth for poor decisions in the past. In thanking Carmack for his services, Bosworth said that it is “impossible to overstate the impact you’ve had on our work and the industry as a whole. Your technical prowess is widely known, but it is your relentless focus on creating value for people that we will remember most.”
And Carmack had the last advice for Meta:
“VR can bring value to most the people in the world, and no company is better positioned to do it than Meta. Maybe it is actually possible to get there by just plowing ahead with current practices, but there is plenty of room for improvement.”