Meta’s Loss of John Carmack: A Blow to the VR Giant’s Future?

John Carmack is leaving Meta after being under its wing for over eight years. This mastermind who contributed to exposure of VR magic isn’t satisfied with Meta’s efficiency, and is leaving the company to pursue his interests in AI.
This event raised a number of questions, including what changes will Carmack’s decision cause in Meta, especially in the strategy of further development and what kind of epilogue follows, given the already considerable loss that this company has experienced in the year behind us?

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Carmack is leaving Meta

Illustration: Milica Mijajlovic

John Carmack and His Contributions to the VR World

If you’re sailing the virtual reality waters, you probably already know who I’m referring to when mentioning the name John Carmack.

However, if the name doesn’t ring a bell, John Carmack is a VR mastermind with a hefty contribution to three-dimensional game design. He’s a computer programmer and game developer whose passion sparked the gaming industry, leaving us with classics such as Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, and Quake.

More importantly, Carmack became the chief technology officer of Oculus in 2013 and maintained that role even after Facebook (now known as Meta) bought the company for $2 billion in 2014. In 2019, Carmack took a similar role as a VR consultant at Meta, reducing his role to work on other projects in the AI field.

Since then, he has worked as an independent Meta consultant, although he still devoted roughly 20% of his working hours to the company’s VR and AR projects.

Carmack's contribution to Oculus

Source: uploadvr.com

Carmack was also a firm believer in VR’s potential long before we even grasped the concept of the VR technology available to us today. As a result, we could say he pushed Meta in the right direction and helped it utilize its resources for VR betterment.

John Carmack is one of the most influential and unique people in the VR world. He was the head of development in charge of Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR , the two headsets that walked so Meta Quest could run. Not only that, But Meta Quest would still be a draft without his knowledge and dedication to technology.

VR development

Photo illustration: Freepik

With Meta’s resources and its obsession with the metaverse, one would think that this company is a perfect environment where geniuses such as John Carmack can thrive. However, this chapter of Meta’s prosperity recently ended, as Carmack decided to leave and focus on its startup, also known as Keen Technologies, instead.

Why Is John Carmack Leaving Meta?

On December 17, Carmack tweeted that his private post was leaked to the press, deciding to publish the whole story for his followers. As you read the original post, he immediately addresses what seemed to be inevitable, which is a resignation from his role as an executive consultant for VR with Meta.

But not only has he left Meta, but he also put his VR era behind him.

According to his Facebook post, Carmack has mixed feelings about his decision.

He began by saying that the Quest 2 headset was almost exactly the item he wanted to create from the very beginning, despite having some issues with the software. Nevertheless, he claims the product offers value to millions of users and that overall, Meta put a good product on the market.

Meta's VR products

Photo illustration: Meta

So, as Carmack boasts the latest Meta inventions, it’s safe to say that poor product quality wasn’t the deciding factor for his resignation. Instead, it appears that Carmack’s and Zuckerberg’s ideas of efficiency didn’t match, hence his decision to leave the company.

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The issue is our efficiency. Some will ask why I care how the progress is happening, as long as it is happening. If I am trying to sway others, I would say that an org that has only known inefficiency is ill prepared for the inevitable competition and/or belt-tightening, but really, it is the more personal pain of seeing a 5% GPU utilization number in production. I am offended by it.

John Carmack wrote in his Facebook post.

He then explains that Meta is operating at half the effectiveness that would make this VR enthusiast happy, which only begs the following questions:

Why are they sabotaging the process if Meta has enough resources and capacity to speed up the VR revolution? Are they slowly leaving the multi-billion dollar industry behind, and if not, what will happen to this industry giant now that John Carmack intends to pour his heart and soul into other projects?

The Future of Meta and Its Long-Awaited Metaverse

Reality Labs is Meta’s business division focused on testing and developing VR software and hardware. According to Insider, Meta invested roughly $36 billion in Reality Labs’ research between January 2019 and September 2022.

On the other hand, Meta shares peaked in August 2021, when the price per share reached $379.38, but it slowly tumbled to roughly $117 in late December 2022.

With such a loss in share value, why is Meta still investing in Reality Labs?

Based on the Meta share price, it’s evident that investors are slowly giving up on Meta, but Mark Zuckerberg isn’t giving up on the project just yet:

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We do anticipate that Reality Labs operating losses in 2023 will grow significantly year-over-year. Beyond 2023, we expect to pace Reality Labs investments such that we can achieve our goal of growing overall company operating income in the long run.

Meta press release

Why am I mentioning this?

Well, Meta’s stock value has been more than shaky lately, and now that John Carmack is gone, will his decision to leave further deter investors from investing in Meta shares?

Meta's stock value

Source: Yahoo Finance

These numbers may continue to drop regardless of Carmack, but now that one of the brightest people in the VR industry is gone, investors may be concerned about Meta’s overall future.

True, Carmack was in a reduced role before he finally left Meta. Nevertheless, his contribution to the company was impactful and won’t be forgotten by the VR community anytime soon.

Jelena is a content writer dedicated to learning about all things crypto. Her hobbies are playing chess, drawing, baking, and going on long walks. During winter, she usually spends her leisure time reading books.