Brendan Iribe, one of the co-founders and former CEO of Oculus, has announced that he’s leaving Facebook. The departure has been attributed to a recent internal shakeup in Facebook’s virtual reality department. The shakeup also saw the cancellation of “Rift 2”, a next-generation, PC-powered virtual reality headset that was under development at the social media company. Iribe had been leading this development and his departure is a clear indication that Facebook didn’t want to pursue this project anymore.
TechCrunch, citing a confidential source close to the matter, also noted that Iribe had a number of fundamental differences with Facebook executives as to where Oculus needed to go in the future. Over time, these differences became wider and more entrenched to the point of no return. Iribe announced his departure from the company through a Facebook post published today. He said that since 2012 when Oculus was first founded, the company has made huge advancements towards its goals.
Iribe also observed that the success seen so far by the company came as a huge surprise but even with that, it was indeed time to move on. The former Oculus CEO praised the commitment that the company showed for the last six years claiming that they had managed to build one of the “best research and engineering teams in history.” He also considered the Oculus Rift and Touch, the first virtual reality headsets released by the company, the perfect evidence of the revolutionary nature of their work in this industry.
However, the cancellation of Rift 2, the next-gen PC-powered headset supposed to be the next big break for Oculus, indicates how priorities at Facebook have changed. Although the social media platform sees virtual reality as an integral part of its future, there seems to be a sudden shift towards all-in-one headsets that don’t need a PC connection. Oculus appeared to have gotten the ground running though. First, the company released its $199 Oculus Go headset. The reception was quite good at the time. There were also plans to release another more advanced headset called the Oculus Quest sometime in the spring of 2019. The Oculus Quest is estimated to cost $399 but we’re still not sure how Iribe’s departure will affect this plan. However, it’s very likely that the release will go ahead as planned.
A source quoted by TechCrunch suggested that Facebook will still continue to pursue virtual reality but from a different point of view. However, the source noted that the roadmap developed by Brendan Iribe during his time at the company will still remain central in this project.
The exit of Iribe comes at a time when a number of high profile Facebook executives have left the company. Just recently, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of the popular photo-sharing app Instagram, announced they were leaving Facebook to focus on other “exciting things.” Instagram was acquired by Facebook a few years ago. Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, a popular messaging app that was also acquired by Facebook, left this year too.