Brendan Iribe, former CEO of Facebook-owned virtual reality company Oculus, is leaving the company. Iribe posted the news on Facebook, writing that “after six incredible years, I am moving on” from Oculus. Iribe didn’t give a reason for his departure or say exactly what he’ll be doing next. “Working alongside so many talented people at Oculus and Facebook has been the most transformative experience of my career,” he wrote. “This will be the first real break I’ve taken in over 20 years. It’s time to recharge, reflect and be creative. I’m excited for the next chapter.”
Iribe was an Oculus co-founder, helping Rift Inventor Palmer Luckey to launch the experimental headset on Kickstarter in 2012. He served as CEO until 2016, when he stepped down to lead Oculus’ PC-based Rift VR division, and the CEO position was replaced by a “Facebook VP of VR” role held by Hugo Barra. Iribe was conspicuously absent at last month’s Oculus Connect conference, where fellow co-founder Nate Mitchell handled press interviews — and where PC-based VR was basically an afterthought, compared to standalone mobile headsets. VRFocus confirms that Mitchell will lead the division going forward.
This departure comes a month after Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, co-founders of similarly acquired company Instagram, abruptly left Facebook — reportedly because they were frustrated by over-management from their parent company. It’s about a year and a half after Luckey himself was apparently pushed out of Oculus sometime after becoming the center of a political controversy. (Zuckerberg has denied that Luckey was fired because of politics, however.)
Facebook doesn’t financially depend on Oculus the way it does Instagram; as Iribe pointed out in his departure post, VR is still an experimental field. And Iribe’s time at Oculus has been seemingly smooth, although like Luckey, he was named in an intellectual property lawsuit by gaming company ZeniMax, which won a judgment against Oculus (currently set at $250 million in damages) in 2017. So there’s no clear reason for his departure — except the obvious fact that Oculus has evolved a lot under Facebook, and it’s not too surprising to see some of its original members move on.