Facebook's VR Aspirations Hit Pothole As Oculus Co-Founder Brendan Iribe Departs

Brendan Iribe
Brendan Iribe, co-founder and former CEO of Oculus, is leaving the company to embark on whatever the next chapter in his life holds. His departure from the company that started the modern VR push (or at least gave it a major boost) creates a murky future for Oculus. Why did he leave, and how does this impact Facebook, which owns Oculus?

Those are both questions he did not answer in his farewell post on Facebook. Instead, he spent most of words on praise for the team effort that "started a revolution that will change the world in ways we can't even envision." He ended the post by saying "this will be the first break I've taken in over 20 years," and that he'll use the time off to "recharge, reflect, and be creative."

"I'm deeply proud and grateful for all that we've done together. We assembled one of the greatest research and engineering teams in history, delivered the first step of true virtual presence with Oculus Rift and Touch, and inspired an entirely new industry," Iribe said.

The Oculus Rift arrived to the scene six years ago. VR had not cracked the mainstream market at that point, but that would eventually change, thanks in large part to the Rift. The idea of VR finally be accessible and viable generated excitement and helped Oculus to raise $2.5 million on Kickstarter. Then in March 2014, Facebook acquired the company for $2 billion.

For all of the early excitement, however, the Rift is still not a mainstream product. The initial high cost of the headset itself and PC requirements both prevented it from becoming as ubiquitous as the computer mouse. Looking ahead, it's not clear what Facebook envisions for Oculus.

There has been talk of a second generation Rift headset. While that would likely be a wireless device, Facebook is simultaneously pushing its recently announced Oculus Quest, a standalone VR headset with the necessary hardware built into the device.

Shares of Facebook are down around 2.3 percent the morning after Iribe's announcement.

Thumbnail/Top Image Source: Facebook via Brendan Iribe

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