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Oculus CTO John Carmack to Step Down

One of the driving forces behind Facebook’s virtual reality efforts is leaving his post: Oculus CTO John Carmack announced Wednesday afternoon that he was transitioning to a “consulting CTO” role this week, and devote most of his time to new challenges outside of the company.

“I will still have a voice in the development work, but it will only be consuming a modest slice of my time,” Carmack wrote in a Facebook post.

“I’m going to work on artificial general intelligence,” he added about his future plans, while making clear that this work wouldn’t be part of Facebook. “For the time being at least, I am going to be going about it ‘Victorian Gentleman Scientist’ style, pursuing my inquiries from home, and drafting my son into the work,” Carmack wrote.

Facebook’s VR unit acknowledged the move in a tweet, saying that the company was glad Carmack was “still on board.”

A Facebook spokesperson also told Variety that Carmack would remain a Facebook employee:

“The nature of his work at Facebook will remain the same and he will pursue a number of projects. He will continue to advise us on strategy and technical feasibility through building proofs of concept, and as always, advocating for our users. For example, he will continue working on projects that maximize visual quality within a limited mobile compute budget.”

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Carmack had joined Oculus in 2013 as its CTO, and stayed on after Facebook acquired the VR startup for $2 billion the following year. He’s had an outsized influence on the VR space, driving both practical implementations for devices like Samsung’s Gear VR and the Oculus Quest as well as next-generation advancements. His annual Oculus Connect keynote talks about advancements in VR have long been a key barometer for technical achievements and future challenges for the industry.

Carmack’s announcement comes three months after Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell revealed that he was leaving Facebook, and it marks just the latest high-profile executive change for the company’s VR unit. Palmer Luckey, who developed the first Oculus Rift prototype, was forced out in early 2017 following the revelation of his financial support of a far-right group. Longtime Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe left the company in October of 2018.

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