More employer changes for John Carmack as Facebook acquires Oculus VR

After leaving id software for Oculus VR in late 2013 to dedicate more time to development of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, John Carmack faces another change. This time, it is more of hidden, indirect one, and one that he probably did not have that much control over. Even though there may initially be little difference to how things are now, only future will tell what Facebook's plans with Oculus are. John Carmack seems to keep a positive outlook as the following tweets suggest:

For the record, I am coding right now, just like I was last week. I expect the FB deal will avoid several embarrassing scaling crisis for VR

I have a deep respect for the technical scale that FB operates at. The cyberspace we want for VR will be at this scale.

I suppose I will get a FB account now, so that may lead to some writing a little longer than tweet length...

The official blog post also suggests the development will continue and, although the combination of brand new VR technology and Facebook, which gets most of its income from targeted advertising, sends an occasional worrying shiver down my spine, let's hope for the best, as this acquisition might give the project a significant boost.

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So does this mean our beloved Carmack has sold out to the soulless corporation known as Facebook?

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Mr. Chris said:

So does this mean our beloved Carmack has sold out to the soulless corporation known as Facebook?


I definitely would not see it that way unless he had a major part in the decision, which I wouldn't say he had; at least not from the position of a person who's calling the final shots.

It's an interesting piece of technology and I think that he will continue working on it the same way he has been doing it until now for the very reason that it is an interesting piece of technology. And the whole acquisition thing is just a decision made higher that mostly flew by him.

Mind that these are just my speculations though, for the real answers, you'd have to ask John himself :)

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I very much doubt that John Carmack had any direct involvement in that acquisition whatsoever. Most likely he heard about this in the same way we did; a surprise email/tweet out of the blue from "the powers that be".

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I'm sure he not only knew about it leading up to this but even when he signed onto the company. I think it's fair to assume that a deal worth $2 billion has been in the works for more than just a couple weeks.

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If he wasn't involved the selling, he isn't at fault then.

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DaniJ said:

I very much doubt that John Carmack had any direct involvement in that acquisition whatsoever. Most likely he heard about this in the same way we did; a surprise email/tweet out of the blue from "the powers that be".

Carmack is the CTO of Oculus, which in terms of headcount is a pretty small company. I think it's very unlikely he was unaware of the acquisition.

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I wonder what would Facebook develop with some traditionally geeky VR helmet, that would be related to social networking (their main thing). Outside of games or simulation, it feels like a temporary gimmick if you wanna do social networking or communication. Are they planning to extend their business?

I guess it can work as a webcam improvement, where you'll see the people in 3D instead of 2D. But then who will be the camera to see them?

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fraggle said:

Carmack is the CTO of Oculus, which in terms of headcount is a pretty small company. I think it's very unlikely he was unaware of the acquisition.

I've seen speculations that he was most likely a shareholder as a compensation for Oculus not being able to afford his worth with cash. Then he might as well be a partner in this crime and got himself some rocket money.

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fraggle said:

Carmack is the CTO of Oculus, which in terms of headcount is a pretty small company. I think it's very unlikely he was unaware of the acquisition.


Even being a CTO means nothing if the decision simply isn't yours to make. Even if he had learned about it at some point, could he have done anything about it? Those, who own the company, are the ones who decide its fate in the end, others can just follow or leave.

dew said:

I've seen speculations that he was most likely a shareholder as a compensation for Oculus not being able to afford his worth with cash. Then he might as well be a partner in this crime and got himself some rocket money.


Yes, this would be the only case in which you could possibly blame him if you wanted to find something to blame him for. Although we can again only speculate if he even ever had a significant enough part in the company to make a difference, which I doubt.

Anyhow, what I would like to point out is that, no matter what you want to blame Carmack for, the only thing that is really throwing a shadow on the deal, is the moral issue with the Kickstarter money. Otherwise I think the deal is good for the Rift, as long as Facebook keeps the promise to keep its fingers out and let the product be build as it was originally intended and only then starts using it in its own ways. Carmack gets to continue his work, we get Oculus Rift, well, Facebook Rift, but still better than a possible idealistic failure. It is only that some of the Oculus supporters on Kickstarter might get a bitter aftertaste along with that.

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fraggle said:

Carmack is the CTO of Oculus, which in terms of headcount is a pretty small company. I think it's very unlikely he was unaware of the acquisition.

Well, I'm purely guessing here, I have no insight into the deal at all. I just know how it typically works in a small company that gets swallowed up like that. Unless you're a director then usually all you hear is rumour, or a bolt from the blue. Also the tone of John Carmack's responses via twitter does nothing to suggest otherwise.

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Ralphis said:

I think it's fair to assume that a deal worth $2 billion has been in the works for more than just a couple weeks.

How about three days?

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