Meta: Self-sabotage in the race for the Metaverse? – An ex-employee unpacks

By Tae Kim
Translation: Thomas Steer

Last Friday, John Carmack announced his resignation as CTO consultant of Metas Reality Labs. The department deals with Metaverse projects, including virtual reality and augmented reality. Metaverse CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse vision may have suffered a major setback with the loss of Carmack.

In a Facebook post, Carmack criticized Meta’s inefficiency and bureaucratic organization. He said he was “pretty frustrated” with the way things were going on Meta and Facebook.

He complained about the lack of efficiency: “I feel offended by it,” he wrote. “When you’ve worked hard to make things better for most of your life, it’s heartbreaking to see something extremely inefficient… We have incredible people and resources, but we’re constantly sabotaging ourselves and wasting our energies.”

The numbers seem to confirm Carmack’s statement.

Meta has invested heavily in the Metaverse – a futuristic vision where consumers will one day play, socialize and work in immersive virtual worlds. But Facebook’s parent company has lost more than $30 billion on Metaverse-related projects since 2019. In the last quarter of September, the Reality Labs division alone lost $3.7 billion and generated just 285 million dollars in revenue.

As Carmack said on Twitter, there is a “major disagreement” between him and Zuckerberg over strategy. He also failed to stop bad ideas and initiatives within Meta.

“It’s a fight. I have a say at the highest level here. So you would think I can influence things. But obviously I’m not convincing enough,” he wrote. “After a year or two, if there’s enough evidence, most of the things I complain about will eventually change into what I want them to be. But I’ve never been able to stop any stupid things before they hurt.”

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Carmack’s comment.

Picture: facebook

Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth took to Twitter to thank Carmack for his work at Reality Labs. It’s hard to overstate the impact he had on Meta and the industry.

Carmack is a legend in the gaming and tech industries. He is widely regarded as one of the brightest minds of his generation in technology and programming. He developed technology for hit games Doom and Quake and was instrumental in the development of virtual reality as CTO of VR startup Oculus.

He moved to Facebook, as Meta was then called, when the company acquired Oculus in 2014. Carmack served as CTO of the Oculus division until 2019; he then took on a part-time role as a CTO consultant.

The loss of someone of Carmack’s stature and technical prowess doesn’t bode well for Meta’s chances of winning the Metaverse race.

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