Oculus co-founder quits Facebook in latest high-profile departure

UPDATE: Facebook has contacted Trusted Reviews with the following statement in response to reports the Oculus Rift 2 had been cancelled, directly leading to departure of Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe leaving the company.

The statement reads: “We are planning a future version of Rift. You may remember Mark saying this at OC5: “… when we release the next version of Rift — which isn’t this year — all of the content that works for Rift will also work on the next version.” So while we aren’t quite ready to talk about the next version of Rift, PC VR is still a category we are investing in. It’s still a part of our strategy – we’re continuing work across product and content and you’ll see this manifest next year. Additionally, Nate continues to lead the Rift/PC team and there are no changes there.”

Related: Oculus Rift 2

Original story continues below…

Yet another founder of a company acquired by Facebook has quit the social network. Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe is leaving the company, reportedly the result of a decision to cancel the planned Rift 2 headset.

Iribe has confirmed his departure in a Facebook post on Monday, but TechCrunch reports the Iribe and Facebook’s top brass had “fundamentally different views on the future of Oculus that grew deeper over time.”

The sources said Iribe had grown concerned about a “race to the bottom” designed to bring as many people into the VR fold as possible, while compromising the priority placed on the highest quality VR experiences.

The official statement today is much more diplomatic, as it was with Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger when they announced their departure from the Facebook fold last month.

In the post, he wrote: “Working alongside so many talented people at Oculus and Facebook has been the most transformative experience of my career. We have a saying when someone compliments or thanks you – “Team effort”.

“The success of Oculus was only possible because of such an extraordinary team effort. I’d like to sincerely thank everyone that’s been a part of this amazing journey, especially Mark for believing in this team and the future of VR and AR.”

Related: PlayStation VR vs Oculus Rift

In a statement to Venture Beat, Facebook denies a sequel to the Rift has been cancelled, but says is isn’t ready to talk about that product yet.

The firm said:  “[W]e aren’t quite ready to talk about the next version of Rift, but PC VR is still a category we are investing in. It’s still a part of our strategy — we’re continuing work across product and content and you’ll see this manifest next year. Additionally, Nate [Mitchell] continues to lead the Rift/PC team and there are no changes there.”

Iribe says he’s going to be taking a break for the first time in 20 years in order to prepare for the next stage of his career.

The departure comes after the launch of the Oculus Go, which was the company’s first standalone VR headset designed for mid-range virtual reality experiences. The $399 Oculus Quest will bridge the gap between the Go and the original Rift, but it appears Facebook’s focus on attracting mainstream consumers, rather than pushing the performance envelope, has led to the split.

Iribe’s departure quickly following that of the Instagram founders represents a trend among companies Facebook has acquired. WhatsApp founder Brian Action left Facebook last year and even expressed support for the #DeleteFacebook movement following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

At least Facebook has Nick Clegg now, huh?

Should we be reading more into these departures? Or were the leaders of Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus always going to end up resenting the Facebook machine? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.

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