Game developer legend John Carmack is leaving Meta, slamming the company in a damning memo that is sure to make waves.
John Carmack joined Oculus in 2013 and served as CTO until 2019 when he stepped down to focus on research and development. He joined Meta when it purchased Oculus but is now departing that company with harsh words regarding its management.
According to Business Insider, Carmack posted a memo to the company’s internal Workplace forum, castigating Meta for its mismanagement.
“We have a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we constantly self-sabotage and squander effort,” Carmack wrote. “There is no way to sugar coat this; I think our organization is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy.”
“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,” he added.
Meta, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has already been facing growing criticism over its heavy focus on the metaverse. One major Meta investor has publicly called on the company to scale back its metaverse investment, saying it has lost its focus and “has drifted into the land of excess.”
Similarly, the Oculus founder likened Zuckerberg’s metaverse obsession to a “project car,” one’s that’s “not good” at this stage.
Even Meta’s own employees are saying that “the Metaverse will be our slow death,” and that “Mark Zuckerberg will single-handedly kill a company with the meta-verse.”
Carmack’s departure and scathing condemnation of the company could well serve as a rallying cry for more critics and put increased pressure on Zuckerberg and company to deliver the goods or move on.
Here’s Carmack’s memo in its entirety, courtesy of Insider:
This is the end of my decade in VR. I have mixed feelings.
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. Despite all the complaints I have about our software, millions of people are still getting value out of it. 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.
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.
[edit: I was being overly poetic here, as several people have missed the intention. As a systems optimization person, I care deeply about efficiency. When you work hard at optimization for most of your life, seeing something that is grossly inefficient hurts your soul. I was likening observing our organization’s performance to seeing a tragically low number on a profiling tool.]
We have a ridiculous amount of people and resources, but we constantly self-sabotage and squander effort. There is no way to sugar coat this; I think out organization is operating at half the effectiveness that would make me happy. Some may scoff and contend we are doing just fine, but others will laugh and say “Half? Ha! I’m at quarter efficiency!”
It has been a struggle for me. I have a voice at the highest levels here, so it feels like I should be able to move things, but I’m evidently ot 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.
This was admittedly 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.
Enough complaining. I wearied of the fight and have my own startup to run, but the fight is still winnable! 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 is actually possible to get there by just plowing ahead with current practices, but there is plenty of room for improvement.
Make better decisions and fill your products with “Give a Damn!”