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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What's your reaction?
  • Doctor Bambi

    …And not a murmur was made of our Luckey star.

    Congrats to Brenden though. Sounds like a role he will be much more comfortable in.

  • Kraufthauser

    And where is Palmer Luckey?

    • Allan

      I suspect they’ll wait a few more months until after Trump’s inaugurated and everything from the crazy election dies down. Then Palmer will start tweeting again.

    • Eric Nevala

      He’s in the mail room 🙂

    • Gina Collecchia


    • billix0

      He’s at home, washing his tights!

  • flavortang

    Very cool, man.

  • K E

    Sorry Oculus but separating “Mobile VR” and “PC VR” doesn’t make any sense from a consumer perspective.
    The main reason for mobile VR as it exists today is to re-use the expensive screen that already exists on the phone to create a cheap VR headset. But the main reason for having a cutting-edge screen in your phone in the first place could soon be VR. Arguably we’ve already reached this point: who really needs a Quad HD screen for everyday phone usage?
    So why not put the Quad HD screen in a separate headset that would connect to both your phone and your PC, and thus be the only headset that you’d need?
    If say Samsung created a headset that could plug into both PC and phones, and combined it with a powerful phone with a simple 720p LCD screen so that the combined cost of the headset and the phone was the same as the combined cost of an S7 and a Gear VR, lots of people would be interested.

    • AcroYogi

      Disagree. For the forseeable future, PCVR will be the leading edge, while mobile will trail, due to performance, power consumption and battery life. There’s a clear path from PC to mobile of 3-6 years, just as there is from game console to handheld. The hardest vision algorithms and highest quality renders require serious GPU heavy lifting. It is a 5+ year cycle to get PC GPU power into mobile form factors.

    • John

      because the 1gen VR we already have uses 2 screens. Leading VR will have greater and greater FOV and there is no magic ultrawide single screen with unobtanium lenses going to do that.

  • Octogod

    Weird day. Back to Oculus Touch launch games!

  • Brian Richards

    I think the mobile vr was a mistake to begin with personally. I have a gear VR because it came free with a phone. The problem is that it’s just a gimmick. Everyone I have let try it goes from wow amazing, to hey, what’s the point of this, and then either get sick or bored with it.

    If you have yet to experience VR sickness, once you have you probably won’t ever want to put a set of VR goggles near your face again. It last for an hour plus, and you feel terrible and just off the whole time.

    I played a ton of games on the gear vr until I played the wrong one and then wham, I got sick, and now just thinking about putting the gear VR on makes me nauseous.

    My understanding is that this is way more common with the lower quality mobile vr and between that and the limitation of the experience, I think that real vr is losing potential customers. People THINK they have tried it, and thought it was neat, but felt no compulsion to go further with it.

    • AcroYogi

      VR sickness is far more a function of software and locomotion design than it is of hardware platform. The pressure here needs to be on a) designers and b) accurate comfort ratings.

      • polysix

        No, it goes hand in hand with capable hardware. VR needs ALL the power it can get. Setting the base SO LOW (mobile) purely to harvest data/take control as facebook tried to with Gear is the last thing true VR needed at this stage. Greedy mother fuckers never stop (Facebook). VR fans need to stop THEM by not buying their nerfed crap.

    • polysix

      Agreed – Facebook’s greedy pursuit of mobile VR (ergo mobile phone data tracking far easier than PC for less investment) has been a massive setback to VR, as was releasing rift without touch. They simply don’t care about ‘real’ VR enough any more. That’s been obvious since gear VR launch and all emphasis on it at every chance.

      Oculus/facebook disgust me, I can’t believe a company can deliver so much BS and still have hardcore fanboys worship them (oh.. yes.. apple of course but at least apple do manage to release some decent products now and then – foculus, not so much – flawed CV1, my DK2 was better in some key ways).

      We need more from Valve and companies like them to push hardcore PC VR. Facebook would kill PC VR if they could or if they had a monopoly because they just can’t quite control it/dictate it as much as they’d like despite their (worst) efforts so far.

  • Richard Rustenburg

    This could mean that that wireless prototype that they showed earlier this year
    will become a consumer product much sooner then we think, i guess.

  • Fitness Gal

    VR needs another 10 years.
    Facebook should never have announced that there will be a real product.
    Sony VR is about to bomb and set it back 10 years all on its own.
    Tech people should not pretend things are ready before they are.
    Its like self-driving cars.
    Not happening any time soon.
    I feel some tech guys like attention too much and thus they lie about when something will be ready.

  • Sam Kennedy

    Wait, so John Carmack will no longer be involved on the PC side of things? He is strictly working on mobile. I know he spent a lot of time on mobile putting the gearvr project on his back in a lot of ways. I thought he transitioned after that towards the PC side, I know he was working on INside out tracking which I guess could be a mobile first thing. Its just weird that a godfather of modern PC gaming is now on the Mobile side.

    • Nik

      John Carmack has been in the mobile division since he joined Oculus. His focus has been mobile VR from the start.

    • polysix

      Facebook (uptil now) have barely given a rats ass about PC VR sadly. Which is why they are so slow, so underwhelming and so full of shit ever since FB bought oculus.

      I think more and more the emphasis will be on standalone and mobile that FB can fully control the content/data tracking of (unlike the wild west of PC). Best thing is to forget oculus even exist for PC now. Look to Valve for proper VR.

  • REP

    Palmer will be back in his garage working on his car.

  • polysix

    yuck. facebook. we knew it would never turn out good. we did warn them.