UPDATED: Oculus co-founder and former CEO Brendan Iribe is the latest executive to leave Facebook: Iribe announced on his Facebook page on Monday that he is leaving Oculus after six years. Facebook denied a Techcrunch report that the departure was prompted by a corporate decision to cancel plans for a second-generation Oculus Rift headset.
“I never could have imagined how much we would accomplish and how far we would come. And now, after six incredible years, I am moving on,” he wrote. “This will be the first real break I’ve taken in over 20 years. It’s time to recharge, reflect and be creative. I’m excited for the next chapter.”
Multiple Facebook executives thanked Iribe for his work following the announcement, with Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer writing that Iribe had “championed VR from its earliest days, when prototypes were still duct-taped and hot-glued,” and Facebook’s head of AR and VR Andrew Bosworth adding: “You built an incredible team and you defined the first generation of VR. We would not be where we are without your leadership.”
There are some indications that the departure wasn’t completely amicable. Techcrunch reported Monday that Facebook decided to cancel plans for a PC-powered Rift 2 headset that Iribe’s group had been working on, prompting him to throw in the towel. Facebook subsequently denied this report, with a spokesperson telling Variety: “Yes, we are planning a future version of Rift.”
Facebook has for some time previewed next-generation PC-based VR hardware that it is developing under the “Half Dome” code name. It’s unlikely that the company canceled those efforts, but it clearly has been realigning some of its resources to double down on standalone and mobile VR.
Also on Monday, Facebook announced that it would shut down its VOD store for the Oculus Rift, telling consumers in an email that the Rift was primarily used for gaming. “These insights inform how we support new and existing features and apps across the platform,” the email stated.
Iribe co-founded Oculus in 2012, assuming the role of the company’s CEO. He continued to lead Oculus VR after its acquisition by Facebook in 2014, but was effectively demoted in 2016 when Facebook restructured Oculus to more closely align it with the mothership.
Back then, Iribe moved to lead the PC VR group, taking charge of the company’s Rift VR headset while it was at the same time developing standalone devices like the Oculus Go and Oculus Quest.
Iribe used his post Monday to thank the Oculus team as well as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for believing in their vision. “The success of Oculus was only possible because of such an extraordinary team effort,” he wrote. “I’d like to sincerely thank everyone that’s been a part of this amazing journey, especially Mark for believing in this team and the future of VR and AR.”
Iribe is just the latest co-founder of a company acquired by Facebook to leave. In recent weeks, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom and Instagram co-founder Mike Krieger announced that they would leave the company. Whatsapp co-founder Jan Koum announced his departure in April.