Carmack quits Meta, brands it inefficient and unprepared for competition
Is Zuck's org doomed, or is this a case of a techie struggling with management?
Legendary developer John Carmack has quit his role as a consultant to Meta, where he worked as an executive consultant on its Oculus virtual reality hardware.
Carmack joined Oculus as its chief technology officer in 2013 – the year before it was acquired by Facebook – and detailed his departure in a Facebook post that replicates and annotates an internal post sent to Meta employees.
The post has two themes, one of which is his belief that Meta is not in great shape.
"This is the end of my decade in VR. I have mixed feelings," the famed Doom developer's post opens.
He's conflicted because he thinks the Quest 2 headset on which he worked is a good product.
"Quest 2 is almost exactly what I wanted to see from the beginning – mobile hardware, inside out tracking, optional PC streaming, 4K (ish) screen, cost effective," he wrote. "We have a good product. It is successful, and successful products make the world a better place. It all could have happened a bit faster and been going better if different decisions had been made, but we built something pretty close to The Right Thing."
He thinks it could have been better if Meta were a more efficient organization.
"We have a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we constantly self-sabotage and squander effort," he wrote. "There is no way to sugar coat this; I think our organization is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy."
He also mused, without attaching the thought specifically to Meta, that "an org that has only known inefficiency is ill-prepared for the inevitable competition and/or belt tightening."
Meta has already reduced its workforce by thirteen percent as the advertising market (and Meta's share price) droops due to unpleasant economic conditions.
Carmack's observation that Meta is inefficient and bloated will therefore not be well-received by investors.
issues, so I knew it would be extra frustrating to keep pushing my viewpoint internally. I am all in on building AGI at Keen Technologies now.— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) December 17, 2022
The second theme is that Carmack felt he could not exert influence.
"It has been a struggle for me," he wrote. "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."
"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.
"I think my influence at the margins has been positive, but it has never been a prime mover."
He wrote that some of those issues were self-inflicted. "I could have moved to Menlo Park after the Oculus acquisition and tried to wage battles with generations of leadership, but I was busy programming, and I assumed I would hate it, be bad at it, and probably lose anyway."
- Doom: The FPS that wowed players, gummed up servers, and enraged admins
- VR going mainstream? Yeah, next year, says Facebook, for the third year in a row
- Unlucky for some: Meta chops 13% of global workforce
- Meta axes two Danish datacenters amid shift to AI infrastructure
That's a story The Register has often heard from technical folk whose roles involve interaction with management.
He signed off with qualified praise for Meta.
"VR can bring value to most of the people in the world, and no company is better positioned to do it than Meta. Maybe it actually is possible to get there by just plowing ahead with current practices, but there is plenty of room for improvement."
Carmack will now focus on Keen Technologies, his startup that wants to build a general AI. ®