Oculus Co-founder Leaves Facebook Just a Month After Instagram Co-founders

Bendan Iribe is departing to 'recharge, reflect and be creative'

Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe is leaving the company. Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

The co-founder of Oculus is leaving Facebook.

Brendan Iribe, who created the viral reality platform six years ago, announced in a Facebook post today that he’s departing the company four years after selling it to Facebook. While he didn’t elaborate on the reason, Iribe—who sold the company for $3 billion along with co-founder Palmer Lucky—said his decision will make time for him to “recharge, reflect and be creative.”

“Now is when we get to pioneer the foundation of the next great computing platform and medium—this is our time to be pushing the state-of-the-art onward and upward,” he wrote.

Soon after Iribe published his Facebook post, a number of Facebook execs piled on with praise of their own in the comments section. Facebook chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer said Iribe “built the foundation of this new computing platform,” while Andrew said Iribe “defined the first generation of VR.” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg added that he “made what once seemed impossible possible.”

“I will always remember the first time you showed me an early Oculus prototype and immediately thinking this was going to be the future,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg has laid out ambitious goals for pushing the adoption of VR, with plans to get at least 1 billion people to own their own headset. However, the industry has been slower to take off than some expected. In 2016, Iribe moved out of the CEO role to oversee the PC division of VR. A year later, Andrew Bosworth, who was previously head of advertising at Facebook, stepped in to lead all of the company’s VR and AR efforts.

The departure makes Iribe the fourth co-founder of the largest Facebook-owned properties to leave this year, following Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Kieger, who left in September, and WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, who left in April. Systrom and Kieger didn’t provide a reason for abruptly leaving, but some reports claim they left over a difference in visions for Instagram. Meanwhile, Koum left over clashes concerning the company’s policies on privacy and encryption.

While Iribe did not provide a specific reason for leaving the company, a Techcrunch report pointed out that he’s leaving after the cancellation of the “Rift 2,” a PC-powered VR headset that would have been a follow-up to its flagship, Oculus Rift. Just last month, Facebook announced plans to begin shipping a less powerful VR headset called the Oculus Quest, a midtier device that will be cheaper than the Rift but more expensive and more capable than the Oculus Go that debuted earlier this year.

In his post, Iribe acknowledged that the VR hardware has not yet reached expectations.

“Every part of VR and AR needs to improve, especially the hardware and core technology, and Oculus has the best team in the world to do that,” he wrote. “Although we’re still far from delivering the magical smart glasses we all dream about, now they are nearly within our reach.”

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.