John Carmack, a titan of the technology industry known for his work on virtual reality as well as classic games like Doom and Quake, is stepping down from his role as a consulting CTO at Meta, according to Business Insider and The New York Times.

At the time, he said he was going to go work on artificial general intelligence — this August, we learned that work would not be for Meta, but rather his new startup Keen Technologies. Carmack had been giving about 20 percent of his time to Meta, he tweeted in August.

“I’m evidently not persuasive enough”

Based on messages he left internally at Meta, he seems to be unhappy with the way things are currently going in VR. He reportedly wrote that things have been a “struggle” for him, and that even though “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,” The New York Times reported.

“We built something pretty close to the right thing,” Carmack reportedly wrote about the Quest 2. He also apparently said that he “wearied of the fight” with Meta, which is burning billions in its Reality Labs division to build things like VR headsets and software for its vision of the metaverse. Carmack would also write internal posts criticizing CEO Mark Zuckerberg and CTO Andrew Bosworth’s decision making, The New York Times said.

It’s not the first time Carmack has been publicly unhappy with Meta’s priorities for VR. The company also killed off its mobile efforts with the Samsung Gear VR — “we missed an opportunity,” he said at the time — and the low-cost Oculus Go, both of which were his projects.

He was also remarkably candid about his frustrations in his unscripted talk at Meta Connect this October, saying “there’s a bunch that I’m grumpy about” in virtual reality. He pointed out how it’s difficult for users to quickly update headsets, and seemed very skeptical about its progress with Horizon Worlds as a social platform and about Meta’s decision to raise prices for the Quest and $1,500 Quest Pro. “I’ve always been clear that I’m all about the cost-effective mass-market headsets being the most important thing for us and for the adoption of VR,” he said.

You can watch that full unscripted talk below.

Meta and Carmack didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment. Carmack will apparently now focus his efforts on Keen Technologies.


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