Oculus VR co-founder Nate Mitchell has confirmed he is the latest to leave the now-Facebook-owned virtual reality company, leaving none of the original founding team standing.
When Facebook acquired Oculus VR in 2014 following the company's considerable success with both crowdfunding and traditional investment vehicles to fund production of its virtual reality hardware and software platform, there were concerns that the social media giant would spoil what had made the company so popular in the first place. While it's hard to deny that having access to Facebook's considerable cash reserves has helped Oculus VR push its technologies forward - including the launch of the Oculus Quest standalone headset and the next-generation Half Dome prototype which has yet to see a commercial release, Oculus has been bleeding founding members since the acquisition: Controversial co-founder Palmer Luckey departed in March 2017 after becoming the focus of a lawsuit, since dismissed on a technicality, while co-founder Brendan Iribe left in October 2018.
Co-founder and chief engineer Jack McCauley, meanwhile, was the first out of the door after quitting the company in November 2015 to focus on short-lived startup McCauley Labs and currently acts as an 'innovator in residence' for the University of California at Berkeley's Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation. Finally, Michael Antonov shifted sideways at the company from acting as Oculus VR's chief software architect to joining Facebook's artificial intelligence infrastructure division - a position he left in May this year. The company's final co-founder, Andrew Scott Reisse, was killed in a vehicular collision prior to the Facebook acquisition.
Now there's another of the founding team to add to the alumni list: Nate Mitchell, who announced his departure on Reddit late yesterday.
'When we posted the Kickstarter in 2012, VR was mostly the stuff of science fiction. We didn’t know if people would take us seriously. We weren’t even sure we'd hit our original $250k target,' Mitchell writes. 'But this community from around the world came together and helped make VR a reality. Fast forward just a few years later, and VR is changing people's lives every day. This is because of you. Virtual reality is still on the bleeding edge of technology, and this community continues to pioneer the way forward. What's ahead is always unknown, and that's what makes it exciting. Stay bold and keep chasing the future.
'What's next for me: I'm taking time to travel, be with family, and recharge. Of course, I'll still be part of this community, but I'll have a much smaller role to play. I expect the incredible team at Facebook to continue to surprise and delight us on this mission to build the next computing platform. I can't wait to see what comes next.'
Facebook has not yet named Mitchell's successor.
May 15 2020 | 11:00