Oculus VR Co-founder Becomes Latest To Leave Facebook

A co-founder of Facebook’s virtual reality division (Oculus VR) has become the latest executive to depart the social networking giant.

Oculus VR co-founder Brendan Iribe, who is also the former CEO of the firm, has announced that he is “moving on” after six years at Facebook.

He said it is “time to recharge, reflect and be creative”, but his departure is sure to add to speculation about the number of recent executive departures from the firm.

Iribe departure

Iribe announced his departure from Facebook using a post on the social platform.

Facebook had acquired the virtual reality headset maker in March 2014 in a deal which cost it $1.9 billion (£1.1bn) in cash and common stock.

Oculus VR had been founded in 2012 by Palmer Luckey, alongside Brendan Iribe and several others.

Luckey left Facebook in 2017.

“So much has happened since the day we founded Oculus in July 2012,” Iribe wrote.

“I never could have imagined how much we would accomplish and how far we would come,” wrote Iribe. “And now, after six incredible years, I am moving on.”

“We assembled one of the greatest research and engineering teams in history, delivered the first step of true virtual presence with Oculus Rift and Touch, and inspired an entirely new industry,” he said. “We started a revolution that will change the world in ways we can’t even envision.

“Every part of VR and AR needs to improve, especially the hardware and core technology, and Oculus has the best team in the world to do that,” he added. “Although we’re still far from delivering the magical smart glasses we all dream about, now they are nearly within our reach.”

“Working alongside so many talented people at Oculus and Facebook has been the most transformative experience of my career,” he wrote. “I’d like to sincerely thank everyone that’s been a part of this amazing journey, especially Mark (Zuckerberg) for believing in this team and the future of VR and AR.”

“As for me, this will be the first real break I’ve taken in over 20 years,” he concluded. “It’s time to recharge, reflect and be creative. I’m excited for the next chapter.”

Iribe’s role at Oculus VR had changed in 2016 when he stepped down as CEO of the division to lead its PC development division.

Then in late 2017 Facebook revealed a portable self-contained virtual reality (VR) headset which was designed to sit in between the high-end Ouclus Rift and smartphone-powered Samsung Gear VR headsets.

The headset has all the components it needs to power VR experiences on the wearable device itself, so there is no need to plug it into a PC or external console, or use a smartphone to power it.

Internal shakeup?

But TechCrunch reported that Iribe’s departure was tied to “internal shake-ups” at Facebook that led to the cancellation of a new PC-powered VR headset (which Iribe had been leading development of), as well as differing views on the future of Oculus.

To be fair Iribe is the not the first executive to depart Facebook in recent weeks.

Last month saw the departures of Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who said they wanted to explore their “curiosity and creativity again”.

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton left Facebook in November last year, and was followed by Jan Koum in May 2018, after he also reportedly clashed with Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption.

Quiz: What do you know about virtual reality?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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