Among the earliest staff of Oculus, right alongside Palmer Luckey, was Brendan Iribe. He helped to develop the first prototype of the iconic headset and build a company around it. He also helped navigate the treacherous legal waters surrounding the company being picked up by Facebook. Recently, Luckey all but disappeared from the public eye. Before this happened, Iribe was already the CEO of Oculus, but was now left to run things on his own, albeit with Facebook’s guidance. As of this morning, however, he is no longer the CEO of Oculus; Iribe has been placed in a new role inside Facebook, heading up the PC side of Facebook’s ventures, helping to compete with the HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, and other high-end contenders. The mobile side, catering to the Oculus-enabled Gear VR and competing with Cardboard, Daydream, and other mobile VR systems, will now answer to Oculus’ head of software, Jon Thomason.
The move marks the beginning of a split between the mobile and desktop sides of Facebook’s efforts in VR. While the new role for Iribe is a step down on paper, he will retain most of the same privileges, influence, and responsibility that he wielded as the CEO of Oculus. Thomason, meanwhile, will move up to a similar level of those things to what Iribe now has. According to a statement by Iribe, he missed being on the ground floor and getting his hands dirty helping to develop the product, and thus decided that when Oculus’ operations became split, he would take the helm of the PC division.
The split also affects a few prominent names. Game development legend and Oculus CTO John Carmack, for example, will be devoting his efforts solely to the mobile side of things, bringing to mobile the kind of seasoned and focused expertise that only years in the game industry could provide. Chief software architect Michael Antonov, meanwhile, will be heading up the Carmel and ReactVR efforts within the mobile division. Chief scientist Michael Abrash will do much the same thing he’s been doing, but will be doing it under the supervision of VP of Product Nate Mitchell on the PC side.