Brendan Iribe, the co-founder and former CEO of Oculus, announced today that he is leaving Facebook, TechCrunch has learned.
Iribe is leaving Facebook following some internal shake-ups in the company's virtual reality arm last week that saw the cancellation of the company's next generation "Rift 2" PC-powered virtual reality headset, which he had been leading development of, a source close to the matter told TechCrunch.
Iribe and the Facebook executive team had "fundamentally different views on the future of Oculus that grew deeper over time," and Iribe wasn't interested in a "race to the bottom" in terms of performance, we are told.
[...] The cancellation of the company's next-gen PC-based "Rift 2" virtual reality product showcases how the interests of Facebook's executive leadership have centered on all-in-one headsets that don't require a connection to an external PC or phone. In May, Oculus released the $199 Oculus Go headset and plans to release the $399 Oculus Quest headset sometime next spring.
Palmer Luckey, a founder of the virtual-reality technology company Oculus, has left Facebook three years after the social network acquired his company for close to $3 billion. Mr. Luckey's departure was announced two months after a trial in federal court over allegations that he and several colleagues had stolen trade secrets from a video-game publisher, ZeniMax Media, to create the Oculus technology. A jury found Facebook liable for $500 million in damages, in part for Mr. Luckey's violation of a confidentiality agreement.
"Palmer will be dearly missed," Tera Randall, an Oculus spokeswoman, said in a statement. "His inventive spirit helped kick-start the modern VR revolution and helped build an industry." Ms. Randall declined to disclose the terms of Mr. Luckey's departure. [...] In January, Facebook appointed a new leader, Hugo Barra, to head up the company's virtual-reality efforts, including Oculus.
Will the first Palmer Luckey documentary be compatible with the next Oculus headset?
Facebook/Oculus has launched the standalone Oculus Go, which is an untethered wireless virtual reality headset similar to smartphone-based VR systems such as Samsung's Gear VR, but with its own built-in Snapdragon 821 SoC instead of using a smartphone:
The Oculus Go, a self-contained headset that offers mobile virtual reality without a smartphone, is going on sale today in 23 countries. The headset's $199 base version has 32GB of storage, and a 64GB version will sell for $249. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called it "the easiest way to get into VR," and in our review, we've found that it's certainly easy to use — but it still has major limitations.
The Oculus Go lacks 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF), unlike the upcoming Lenovo Mirage Solo. It also has just about 1-2 hours of useful battery life before needing to be recharged for a couple of hours, and the company discourages you from wearing it while it is recharging. SuperData predicts that Oculus Go will outsell all other VR headsets this year. The low price of $200 and untethered design could bring VR closer to becoming mainstream.
At its F8 conference, Facebook hinted at some features coming to its future VR headsets, including variable depth-of-field using physically adjusted varifocal lenses, an increase from a 110 to a 140-degree field-of-view without increasing the size of the headset, and built-in hand tracking. (Also at TechCrunch.) Facebook also announced Oculus Venues, an app for displaying live sports events, concerts, comedy shows, etc. in VR. These live events will begin on May 30.
Also at Tom's Hardware, RoadtoVR, USA Today, and Digital Trends. MIT Technology Review has an interview with Rachel Franklin, Facebook's head of social VR, who admits "there's not much to do" in Facebook Spaces, the company's "social VR app".
The two co-founders of Facebook Inc.'s popular Instagram app are stepping down, a move marking continued tumult at the social-networking giant.
The co-founders—Kevin Systrom, Instagram's chief executive, and Mike Krieger, chief technology officer—clashed with Facebook executives over the extent of Instagram's autonomy in recent months, according to people familiar with the matter. Earlier this year, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg shifted a senior Facebook executive, Adam Mosseri, over to Instagram in anticipation that the founders might leave, one of the people said.
Among other things, Facebook officials, including Mr. Zuckerberg, clashed with the co-founders over growth tactics and how to more rapidly expand the photo-sharing app's user base, another person said. Senior Facebook officials had known the two men were frustrated working within a large company and had begun making preparations for them to leave, another person familiar with the matter said.
Facebook used its latest virtual reality conference, the fifth annual Oculus Connect, to finally confirm retail plans for its most ambitious standalone VR product yet: the Oculus Quest. Originally known by its prototype name, Oculus Santa Cruz, the Quest will ship in spring 2019 for $399.
In terms of the sales pitch, this is the Oculus holy grail: a wireless, hand-tracked, "six degrees of freedom" VR system with apparently legitimate 3D power and no required PC or phone.
The headset will include two bundled handheld controllers, and more than 50 games will be available at launch. The headset has a 1600×1440 per eye resolution (3200×1440 total resolution), compared to 1280×1440 per eye for Oculus Go or 1440×1600 per eye for HTC's Vive Pro, and has 64 GB of internal storage.
A former top executive at Facebook who was ousted from the company may have been fired over his support for Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal reported Sunday that Palmer Luckey has recently told people that he was fired for supporting Trump before that year's presidential election. Luckey's donation in September 2016 to NimbleAmerica, a group that funded ads attacking Hillary Clinton, reportedly sparked backlash within Facebook.
Six months after making that donation, Luckey was no longer at the company. The Journal noted that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress this year that Luckey's departure had nothing to do with his political beliefs.
According to the Journal, Luckey was first put on leave and later fired. In the fall of 2016, Zuckerberg pressured Luckey to voice support publicly for Gary Johnson, the libertarian nominee in that year's election, the Journal reported, citing internal emails and sources familiar with the conversations.
"Zuckerberg lied to Congress" could become a bipartisan statement.
Also at NBC.
Related: Oculus VR Founder Palmer Luckey on the Need for "Unlimited Graphics Horsepower"
Facebook/Oculus Ordered to pay $500 Million to ZeniMax
Palmer Luckey Donates to CrossVR Patreon
Oculus Co-Founder Brendan Iribe Leaves Facebook