John Carmack steps out of Meta

John Carmack steps out of Meta’s VR mess

In a nutshell: John Carmack is a legendary name in the tech industry, a prodigy programmer who worked on gaming milestones like Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake. His late interests, virtual reality and AI, are now forcing his decision to leave Meta and its very messy business outlook.

John Carmack is leaving Meta’s VR business. After a decade spent trying to “move things” within Mark Zuckerberg’s company, the co-creator of the FPS genre has decided to give up and pursue other interests with his own startup. Carmack’s final message, however, depicts a rather troublesome situation for his former employer’s business.

Meta, the ginormous corporation previously known as Facebook, is inefficient, constantly self-sabotaging and “ill prepared for the inevitable competition” to come, Carmack said in his final message to employees. The programmer left id Software in 2013 to work full-time at Oculus, a company later acquired by Facebook/Meta to become part of Facebook Reality Labs’ VR efforts.

Carmack said that Quest 2, Meta’s latest attempt at building and marketing a VR headset for the masses, is pretty close to what he considers the “right thing” to do if you want to make a good product. “It all could have happened a bit faster,” Carmack also said, but Meta seems to be inherently inefficient, just like production code which is unable to go beyond a 5% GPU utilization rate.

Meta is not progressing at the pace it should, Carmack remarked, because the company has “only known inefficiency” and “is ill-prepared for the inevitable competition” in the VR space. Meta has a ridiculous amount of people and resources, and yet it is constantly self-sabotaging and squandering effort. It’s not even “operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy,” Carmack said.

The coder has struggled to make his voice heard for a while, even though he should have been able to considering his CTO role. He said he is “evidently not persuasive enough.” “I could have moved to Menlo Park after the Oculus acquisition and tried to wage battles with generations of leadership,” Carmack concedes, “but I was busy programming, and I assumed I would hate it, be bad at it, and probably lose anyway.”

Now the programmer is “wearied of the fight” and wants to run his own startup working on artificial general intelligence (Keen Technologies). VR can still “bring value to most of the people in the world,” Carmack finally said, “and no company is better positioned to do it than Meta” – even with its current, inefficient practices. There still is plenty of room for improvement, but he won’t be there to see it.