Virtual Reality: Another Oculus co-founder quits Facebook
Brendan Iribe, former CEO of the virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus has decided to leave Facebook. He would no longer agree with the social network’s plans for the future of his company.
And two. After the resignation of Palmer Luckey, creator of the virtual reality company Oculus, in March 2017, it was his former partner Brendan Iribe who decided to regain his independence by announcing his departure from Facebook. “This will be the first real break I’m going to take in over 20 years,” he explained in a post on his Facebook page.
Presented for the first time in prototype form at E3 (a major exhibition dedicated to video games) in 2012, the Oculus Rift headset had very quickly aroused a lot of hopes. His crowdfunding campaign on the Kickstarter website had broken records by raising $3 million far beyond the initial goal. Two years later, the entire Oculus company was acquired by Facebook for $2.3 billion. At the time, this takeover was criticized in particular by the first independent investors who had accompanied the development of Occulus from the beginning. The latter were afraid that Facebook would take control of the company and impose its ideas about virtual reality on it.
Democratizing virtual reality
By buying Oculus, Facebook’s goal was above all to democratize virtual reality to make it affordable to as many people as possible. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, announced that he wanted to convert 1 billion people to this technology. To do this, Facebook had formed partnerships with other brands including Samsung and its Gear VR headset from which it was possible to connect directly to its account on the social network. In the same logic, Mark Zuckerberg and his teams had insisted on launching cheaper products like the Oculus Go (sold for 199 dollars against 399 dollars for the Oculus Rift). The social network has also set up its own virtual reality projects such as Places, an application that allows you to chat with friends, draw or make calls only in a virtual space.
Internally, Facebook has also insisted on putting its own executives on Oculus teams. In 2016, Brendan Iribe had also left his position as CEO of the company to be replaced by the vice president in charge of virtual reality at Facebook, Hugo Barra. Brendan Iribene was more than just in charge of the virtual reality section dedicated to PCs. A change of position that was interpreted at the time as a sideline for this successful entrepreneur. Before joining Oculus, Brendan Iribehave indeed developed other companies such as the “cloud gaming” company Gaikai, bought for $ 380 million by Sony.
The abandonment of the “Rift 2” at the origin of the departure of Iribe?
According to information from the specialized website TechCrunch, Brendan Iribe’s departure was allegedly motivated by a decision internally at Facebook. The social network has reportedly decided to cancel the “Rift 2” virtual reality headset project that the Iribe team was working on to move towards so-called “all-in-one” headset projects that do not require a PC or a high-end smartphone to work. Facebook responded by saying that they were still working on a new version of the Rift headset but without further clarification.
Of the five founders of Oculus, only two still work for Facebook today: Nate Mitchell, in charge of the “Rift” headset and Michael Antonov, as head of the software part.
Brendan Iride’s departure comes on top of that of other executives who have also made the decision to leave Facebook this year. On September 25, the two co-founders of Instagram – acquired by Facebook in 2012 – Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger announced their resignation. And this, only a few months after the defection of WhatsApp co-founders Brian Acton and Jan Koumwhich raised disagreements with Mark Zuckerberg in particular regarding the respect of user privacy.