Nate Mitchell, Facebook’s Head of VR Product, and the last of Oculus’ co-founders, has announced that he’s leaving the company.

Mitchell was among five core people at the inception of Oculus in 2012, which also included Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Jack McCauley and Michael Antonov, all of which have now departed the company following the 2014 Facebook acquisition.

Mitchell announced his departure on the Oculus Subreddit on Tuesday.

Hey everyone — I have some bittersweet news to share with this community. After 7 incredible years, I’ve decided to move on from Oculus / Facebook.

When we posted the Kickstarter in 2012, VR was mostly the stuff of science fiction. We didn’t know if people would take us seriously. We weren’t even sure we’d hit our original $250k target. But this community from around the world came together and helped make VR a reality. Fast forward just a few years later, and VR is changing people’s lives every day. This is because of you.

Virtual reality is still on the bleeding edge of technology, and this community continues to pioneer the way forward. What’s ahead is always unknown, and that’s what makes it exciting. Stay bold and keep chasing the future.

What’s next for me: I’m taking time to travel, be with family, and recharge. Of course, I’ll still be part of this community, but I’ll have a much smaller role to play.

I expect the incredible team at Facebook to continue to surprise and delight us on this mission to build the next computing platform. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

To everyone here: Thank you for your passion and creativity. Thank you for believing in the impossible. Thank you for inspiring us everyday.

Thanks for 7 amazing years.

Nate

According to Mitchell, he started at Oculus as the company’s VP of Product, became Head of Rift in 2016, and then Head of VR Product at Facebook in 2018.

His departure follows Jack McCauley who left in 2015; Palmer Luckey who left in 2017, reportedly pushed out for his political views; Brendan Iribe who left in 2018, reportedly due to disagreement over the future direction of the Oculus Rift; and Michael Antonov who left this May.

Mitchell’s departure marks an end of an era, and effectively a total transition of the original Oculus leadership to those chosen by Facebook.

SEE ALSO
Zuckerberg to Shareholders: 'Quest is selling as fast as we can make them'

Despite the string of departures since the acquisition, Facebook seems pleased with the sales of its latest mobile VR headset, Quest, and is signalling continued belief in its vision of developing AR and VR technology.

“The reason augmented and virtual reality will deliver a qualitatively better experience than traditional computing platforms is that they deliver the feeling of presence—that you’re actually there with another person or in another place,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently told shareholders. “The feeling of presence is so important to social interactions and how we’re wired to interact as people. So even if it has taken longer than we expected to deliver this at scale, I continue to believe that this will be one of the most important contributions we make to the way we all use technology over the long-term.”

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  • Xron

    Hmz… now lets hope that Abrash won’t leave it…

    • Also Carmack…

    • kuhpunkt

      Wonder if he would go back to Valve :D

      • Blaexe

        I don’t think so as facebooks resources are way bigger when it comes to XR research. And that’s what Abrash wants to do.

  • The Bard

    I dislike this dishonest guy so much.

    • Hivemind9000

      Which dishonest guy? There’s so many of them.

  • Michael Hill

    I wonder where all these guys will work in the next few years, they can’t stay unemployed forever. Unless when Oculus was acquired did they all become billionaires or was that just Palmer? I don’t think they could work for or start a rival VR company without Oculus suing them for using IP like Zenimax did to Carmack.

    • Sven Viking

      They would have received a smaller percentage than Palmer, but if they’re not actually billionaires they’re probably not too far off. They also made money from their previous startups.

      • anonymous

        actually, Palmer got the least. he-he..

        • Sven Viking

          He was going to get the least, but according to the Wall Street Journal someone tipped him off just before his firing to get hold an employment lawyer ASAP, the lawyer pointed out that Facebook broke California law in forcing Palmer to release a false political statement, and as settlement Facebook ended up paying out the money he would have made over the next few years if he hadn’t been fired.

      • flamaest

        non-compete agreements are not enforceable in California.

    • Virtual Funkality

      None of them ever have to work again. But it is not like they are not employable or lack the desire to work.

  • MosBen

    It’s kind of a bummer to close the door on the scrappy Oculus that jump started the modern era of VR. At the same time, Oculus/Facebook is the only major player at this point that seems to really be focusing on getting VR into mainstream hands. The Index seems like a really nice piece of kit, but a $1,000 piece of hardware that requires a $1,000-$1,500 PC to play, and requires several external base stations which need to be set up in a more or less permanent game space feels a lot like moving back to 2015-2016.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t love Facebook for lots of reasons. And as someone that’s a VR nerd, I expect to upgrade my PC at some point in the next year and pick up a next gen PC HMD. But I also wish that someone else was taking mass adoption more seriously.

    • Gary

      Don’t forget Sony. By most accounts they have more VR users than every other platform combined and they’ll continue supporting and pushing it with the PS5. The Index is great if you can afford it and the high-end PC to go with it but the Quest is a pretty phenomenal piece of hardware too. I got both at roughly the same time and thus far I’ve spent much more time with the Quest just because complete freedom of movement in a large room is a such a step up from my Rift (and the Netflix and Amazon Prime apps are awesome). That’s all likely to change with the No Man’s Sky VR update but still, having Sony, Facebook, and Valve all supporting VR in their own way is pretty dang nice considering where we started.

      • MosBen

        That’s a great point, and I totally forgot about Sony. And, for that matter, though I was wrong that Microsoft was going to have a VR HMD for the Xbox One, I’m reasonably confident that they’re going to do something with VR for their next generation console. I can justify their lack of movement on VR during this console cycle as not wanting to rush into a new peripheral mid-way through their hardware cycle, but It just wouldn’t make sense for them to completely cede this are of games to Sony, particularly since the PSVR has done pretty well.

        • sfmike

          I think Microsoft is to invested in the world of quarterly profits to really do anything innovative. It’s just about profits and draining consumers of money.

          • Jistuce

            After the whole Kinect fiasco, Microsoft’s XBox division is a little gun-shy.

          • MosBen

            But Sony isn’t about profits and draining consumers’ of money?

          • Darshan

            Sony does that creativly…. :-)

          • sfmike

            Took the words right out of my mouth! Sony has vision while MS has drones and accountants.

        • Gary

          I have absolutely no faith in Microsoft. Their totally apathy on VR astounds me (especially with their headquarters basically right next to Valve’s and with Facebook expanding a VR campus in Seattle as well). And then there is completely ceding VR to their only real console competitor. I just don’t get it. They should have been the one to buy Oculus years ago. They have hundreds of billions of dollars – it’s a drop in the bucket to them. I really don’t get what they’re doing.

          • Hivemind9000

            Microsoft seemed to start off well, with the whole Windows MR platform and getting all those hardware manufacturers to build headsets, but it seemed to go nowhere. Probably a lack of vision internally in Microsoft. I’m glad that Sony are still committed as I thin consoles are going to be the platform where VR will gain true mass acceptance – powerful enough to drive truly immersive and realistic graphics, while being reasonably affordable (compared to a full PC setup). Quest is a great product, but it’s playing in the shallow end of the graphics/physics pool. So, go Sony! (I’ll be lining up for a PS5 this time after years of owning every XBox to be released).

          • MosBen

            I’m still relatively confident that the next Xbox is going to have a VR peripheral, and they just decided to hold of on this console generation.

          • MosBen

            I understand not putting out a VR device for the Xbox 1. The baseline PS4 is just barely powerful enough to run VR, but the baseline Xbox One probably isn’t. The Xbox One X definitely is, but then you’re talking about releasing an expensive peripheral for a console that most of this generation’s players don’t own and don’t want to upgrade to.

            Assuming that they are going to go forward with some kind of VR device, it makes sense to hold off for the upcoming generation, which, as someone who owns an Xbox One X, is probably coming faster than I’d like to believe. This allows them to target powerful hardware ahead of time instead of rushing a VR peripheral to a device that wasn’t designed for it. PSVR may have been successful for Sony this generation, but it’s still not something that most PS4 players have, so it’s not likely to be something that locks many people into the next generation Sony console. Waiting also allows MS to wait for VR hardware to develop a bit further. While the first gen VR hardware was good enough, including the PSVR, it had a fair amount of drawbacks, many of which will have been ironed out by the time the next Xbox launches.

            Of course, it’s also possible that MS just isn’t interested and I’m going to throw up my hands in bafflement.

          • care package

            Xbox one is probably powerful enough to run PSVR. They aren’t that different.

          • MosBen

            From my recollection, the vanilla Xbox One and PS 4 weren’t that far apart in terms of power, but the PS4 did have the edge. And it seems like the PS4 was just powerful enough to run the PSVR, which was the least impressive hardware of the initial top tier HMDs in 2016. Sure, it’s ended up with some good games, but the resolution is lower, etc.

            So I get MS deciding to wait a generation to allow VR hardware to improve and to give them time to build a more powerful console that can produce a more impressive experience. If, that is, that’s what they’re doing. If they don’t have any VR plans for this upcoming generation, I’ll be really flummoxed.

          • sfmike

            It’s the typical corporate lack of vision. If a product isn’t going to show big profits in a couple of quarters it is axed. Innovation is for losers.

        • Charles

          Don’t forget Samsung either – the Odyssey+ is (in my opinion) the best HMD out today (though not perfect). I’ve owned most of them. And you can get an Odyssey+ for $300 on eBay. And it’s a lot easier to set up than HMDs with external tracking. They really need to advertise it more – it could do a lot to get more people into VR.

          • MosBen

            With the death of the GearVR, I wonder whether Samsung is going to continue forward with VR. I’d certainly be interested in the followup to the Odyssey+.

          • Darshan

            You never know it’s killed for Samsung Standalone HMD??

      • Sven Viking

        Every other platform if you don’t count Gear VR etc, at least.

      • Darshan

        @Gary Don’t you wish No Man’s Sky on Quest..I think it’s plausible due to fact that PS4 version has it.

        • kool

          Can the quest push out psvr quality graphics?

          • Blaexe

            No.

    • brandon9271

      I wish Valve had made a more consumer priced (cheaper) HMD kit similar to the HTC Vive. I don’t care much for inside out tracking. I know it’s the cheapest thing going and it’s passable but it’s not ideal. I had hoped that this long after Vive’s release we’d have much cheaper Lighthouse based tracking. The base stations are overpriced IMO.

      • MosBen

        Yeah, to me it makes so much sense to have a couple tiers of products, one at a mainstream price and one at an enthusiast price, but we haven’t really seen any of the companies go that route. Facebook/Oculus seems focused on delivering cheap but not exactly technologically thrilling hardware while Valve, and others, are focused on putting out enthusiast hardware which isn’t much cheaper than enterprise solutions. I mean, both the Quest and the Index seem to be selling well enough to justify their existence, so it seems odd that neither company tried to hit both areas of the market.

      • asshat

        “I know it’s the cheapest thing going and it’s passable but it’s not ideal.” thats not true about inside out. Its the most ideal for accurate tracking. not ideal for easy set up. so its a preference thing, and to me idk why youd sacrifice good tracking when you only need to put some boxes down

        • brandon9271

          I was talking about WMR tracking. Not ideal, gets lost a lot, can’t track controllers outside of your POV or close to your face. Lighthouse is way better but much more expensive

  • Kane Robinson

    Nate Mitchel is an excellent tech ambassador and was an asset to Oculus in promoting it – I think he’ll do well wherever he lands

  • Yoshi Kato

    Not really a big surprise. It’s pretty obvious that the goals of Oculus changed significantly after being acquired by Facebook. I remember the sheer disappointment felt by many of the Kickstarter backers when the acquisition was announced.

    • James P.

      I remember exactly where I was when I read that news. I was in the lobby of Burruss building at Kennesaw State University. I just sat down, dumbfounded at the decision for a while and read the news. It took so much of the steam out of my excitement for VR. The excitement came back, but time has proven the decision wasn’t without consequences, as we’ve seen PC VR neglected.

      • asshat

        i hate fb.

        but the quest is getting so many people into vr that its really really really helping speed things up for everyone involved in vr.

        that is all

        • Darshan

          Quest is meaningful evolution of Rift and certainly Quest 2 or 3 will change the VR landscape with Quality offerings.I do wish Quest would include SD845/855 any way whatever is there nothing short of wonderful. Standalones are future if they also include PC connect option too. Not an impossible thing.

    • KUKWES

      I remember going thank god there will be a huge company that will shape and evolve VR and even it’s their own vision it will still push VR

  • AlanWake

    Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Nate Mitchel..
    I hope they will found new VR tech company :P

  • James P.

    Red top mountain state park.. I spent so many hours in a hammock there.

    Yeah, you make a good point. We’ll have to see how Rift 2.0 goes. Fb definitely provided the funds to move VR forward. They’re making smart moves for mass adoption, it’s just not as exciting for enthusiasts with PCs right now. But without mass adoption, there wouldn’t be any content, so I can’t complain too much. I just want more innovation.

    • kool

      I didn’t get a chance to take my jetskis to the lake in a couple years, I hope I can before labor day.

      PC guys always want to be able to upgrade at will. VR is a closed platform with generational upgrades. I know that’s gotta be frustrating for y’all. I hope we get the next gen by next Christmas.

  • Greyl

    I still don’t understand the negative feelings towards the Rift S? Even with its slight downgrades, it’s still by far the best value for money / easy to set up PCVR headset on the market. And it was always marketed as an interim release (mainly to introduce the new focus on inside out tracking), not a full on Rift 2.

    • Virtual Funkality

      They just had Lenovo throw together essentially a Windows headset and slap Oculus name on it. After 3 years it should have been more. That’s why Iribe left. All the focus was on Quest and Facebook has little interest in a PC unless they can get it for cheap and make money from the Oculus store. It’s great that many people didn’t mind the lateral move.

      • Greyl

        Based on the new things they’re implementing in to the ‘Halfdome’ prototype, such as eye tracking, finger tracking, varifocal display, etc, 3 years is not a feasible amount of time to have a true Rift 2 ready on the market.

        Rift 2 is coming, but at the moment, it’s more important to have a more accessible headset, that grows the Oculus/PCVR market.

        • Virtual Funkality

          That is all true. But in August 2018. When the decision was to not focus on halfdome and look for outside manufacturers for the next headset it pissed Iribe off so much that he left. So Facebook would need to see a change in the PC market for them to justify further development. It’s too bad they have the money to advance the technology but just like Apple they don’t value R&D because they have to show profits to share holders. When I was at Samsung they automatically spent 15-30% of profits on R&D. Apple Shareholders would never allow that. The 2 billion dollar purchase of Oculus was criticized and so far has not been a profitable decision . Quest may turn it around for them (non profit in the hardware but the users are spending buying apps). They are hoping it becomes the hot Christmas item.

          • Greyl

            R&D is still being spent internally on Halfdome, which is probably why they had Lenovo externally work on Rift S, while the internal team worked on Halfdome.

            But the reality is, we’re probably not seeing that headset in 2+ years at the minimum from now, so refreshing the Rift with a more accessible headset and growing the software sales and userbase, makes a lot more sense in the interim.

          • Virtual Funkality

            We definitely have different insider information.

          • Greyl

            When we literally have a new patent filed from Oculus from as recent as 6 days ago for true haptic VR gloves, you can’t objectively state that internal R&D in to next generation VR technologies isn’t happening at the company: https://uploadvr.com/facebook-vr-glove-patents/

      • Blaexe

        Panel? Oculus specced. Tracking? Oculus. Lenses? Oculus. Sound? Oculus. Controllers? Oculus. Software? Oculus.

        But yeah… It’s basically a Lenovo headset…

        Oculus has never promised us a big leap before 2021. We got what they’ve told us from the beginning.

  • Oculus is no more, there is only Facebook

  • Virtual Funkality

    There may not be a Rift 2.0 that’s why Iribe was so mad he left the company. They don’t want to spend the R&D money required and would rather just purchase some Lenovo’s and slap their name on it. It’s surprising that people haven’t realized this. Their focus is on the Quest.

  • FrankVVV

    Bought myself an Oculus Rift the day it came out. Won’t buy a future Oculus, since now it’s Facebook. Too bad.

    • care package

      Facebook isn’t going to survive without your business.

      • FrankVVV

        Great news!