Brendan Iribe Is No Longer CEO of Oculus, Now Leads PC-Focused VR Team Within Facebook (Update)

by David Jagneaux • December 13th, 2016

Some days when you work on the media side of the tech industry, you get through the day by going through the motions, reporting on stuff you knew about a good bit in advance, and writing about cool upcoming games, events, and gadgets. Other days, you get an email in your inbox at 9:30AM PST with a 10AM embargo that is nothing short of one of the most surprising announcements of the year. As of today, Brendan Iribe, co-founder of Oculus, is no longer the CEO of the company he helped create with Palmer Luckey over four years ago in Irvine, CA.

Iribe is stepping down as CEO in a move that will result in the pioneering VR company splitting its mobile-based and PC-based VR divisions more cleanly. Iribe will lead the PC side, while Jon Thomason, who was formerly VP of Engineering at Qualcomm for five years and then VP of Mobile Shipping at Amazon before joining Oculus as Head of Software in August of this year, will head up the mobile division. Iribe and Thomason, along with Mike Schroepfer, CTO of Facebook, will reportedly all work together to find a new leader for Oculus VR moving forward.

This news comes just a week after the company launched the Oculus Touch controllers, the long-awaited solution to hand-tracking for their Oculus Rift headset. We loved them in our review.

In a prepared statement provided to UploadVR, Iribe writes that:

“We’ve decided to establish new PC and mobile VR groups to be more focused, strengthen development and accelerate our roadmap.

Looking ahead and thinking about where I’m most passionate, I’ve decided to lead the PC VR group—pushing the state of VR forward with Rift, research and computer vision. As we’ve grown, I really missed the deep, day-to-day involvement in building a brand new product on the leading edge of technology.

You do your best work when you love what you’re working on. If that’s not the case, you need to make a change. With this new role, I can dive back into engineering and product development. That’s what gets me up every day, inspired to run to work.”

When we asked Oculus PR what this meant for Max Cohen, the current Head of Mobile at Oculus, we were told that, “he’s still focused on mobile and growing the mobile ecosystem on Jon’s team.”

We will continue to follow this story as it evolves. For more information, the full statement has been posted on the official Oculus blog.

Update: After publication, Oculus PR also informed us of how this affects the roles of Nate Mitchell, VP of Product, and Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist, upon further inquiry: “Nate will be leading Rift, on Brendan’s PC VR team. Michael Abrash still leads Oculus Research on Brendan’s team.”

When asked about John Carmack, CTO, and Michael Antonov, Chief Software Architect, Oculus PR informed us that, “they are both still at Oculus and they work on the mobile team. Michael Antonov is leading the Carmel and ReactVR effort today.”

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