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Nate Mitchell, the last Oculus cofounder remaining at the Facebook-owned company, has announced that he is leaving. Having most recently headed up Oculus’ Rift team and the virtual reality products side of Facebook, Mitchell shared the “bittersweet news” in a Reddit post today.
“After 7 incredible years, I’ve decided to move on from Oculus / Facebook,” he said, noting the progress Oculus made between launching its famous 2012 Kickstarter campaign to now, when “VR is changing people’s lives every day.” Mitchell notes he’s “taking time to travel, be with family, and recharge,” with a plan to “still be part of this community,” but “have a much smaller role to play.”
It’s unclear whether the departure was entirely amicable, but it appears to have been fairly sudden, even though Mitchell’s comments — like those of previously exiting Oculus cofounders — were positive towards his former colleagues. “I expect the incredible team at Facebook to continue to surprise and delight us on this mission to build the next computing platform,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what comes next.”
Facebook doesn’t yet have a replacement for Mitchell. A spokesperson tells VentureBeat that the company is “actively looking internally and externally for someone to lead VR product,” but that Mitchell’s departure “doesn’t impact our roadmap or future plans.”
The departure comes shortly ahead of Facebook’s annual virtual reality developers conference, Oculus Connect 6, which is scheduled for September 25 and 26. Up until now, Mitchell has been one of the most public faces of the Oculus team, putting major announcements in context and explaining the company’s thinking behind new hardware such as the Rift S headset.
Founders of Facebook-owned companies have been exiting the company at a fairly brisk pace over the past few years, during a period when the social media company has faced serious internal and regulatory issues, as well as deep public concerns regarding its stewardship of users’ personal information. Oculus’ well-known cofounder Palmer Luckey was pushed out the door in 2017, and was followed by Brendan Iribe in late 2018. The cofounders of Instagram and Whatsapp also left last year.
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