Every founding member of virtual reality company Oculus has now left the firm. The final member to leave is Nate Mitchell, who announced his departure on Facebook and Reddit. Most recently, Mitchell was serving as Head of VR Product at Facebook.
Mitchell said he’s taking time off to travel, spend time with his family, and recharge his proverbial batteries. He said he plans to remain part of the Oculus community in some capacity, though he acknowledged he will have a “much smaller role to play” going forward.
Social networking giant Facebook acquired Oculus in 2015 for $2 billion USD. Mitchell said he believes the team at Facebook will “continue to surprise and delight” fans with virtual reality platforms. “I can’t wait to see what comes next,” he said.
The other Oculus founders are Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov, Jack McCauley, and Andrew Reisse. Luckey left Oculus in 2017 and he now heads up the defense company Anduril Industries which works with the US government on various and controversial projects related to immigration. Iribe, the former CEO of Oculus, left the company in October 2018. He used some of the fortune he made from the sale to Facebook to give $31 million to his alma mater, the University of Maryland.
McCauley, meanwhile, left Oculus in November 2015; in July this year, McCauley told CNBC that he believes Oculus will never find success in VR. Another Oculus founder, Michael Antonov, left the company in May 2019 according to his LinkedIn page. Sadly, Reisse was killed in a traffic accident in 2013.
Going back to Mitchell, he said in his goodbye post that VR was “mostly the stuff of science fiction” back in 2012 when Oculus raised money for the device on Kickstarter. “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,” Mitchell said.
A spokesperson for Facebook told GI.biz that the company is currently looking for a replacement for Mitchell; the company is considering internal and external candidates.
After Facebook bought Oculus, Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media sued Oculus over accusations that it stole ideas for virtual reality devices. A court eventually sided with ZeniMax and awarded the company $500 million in damages. That figure was later reduced to $250 million.
The latest Oculus product is Oculus Quest, a standalone virtual reality headset that doesn’t require a computer. In addition to working on the hardware itself, Oculus funds the development of VR games through its Oculus Studios division. Oculus also operated a studio that made animated VR movies, but Facebook closed the company in May 2017.