Several days ago, Noam Bardin, the former CEO of Waze, wrote a post about his experience at the company as it was acquired by Google. Now, a few days later, John Carmack, Oculus VR’s former Chief Technology Officer, has responded by talking about his experiences when Facebook acquired Oculus.
Carmack has been a major player in the gaming industry for decades now. He was a founding member of id Software and has worked on several classic titles like Quake, Doom, and a game that just celebrated its 30th anniversary, Commander Keen. In fact, having Carmack’s name attached to the Oculus brand helped put the company on the map, so when the legendary programmer stepped down as CTO of Oculus in 2019, many were surprised.
Facebook initially acquired the VR company in 2014, and Carmack shared a few thoughts on the acquisition back then, but his new post on the Hacker News website dives a little deeper and is written from the perspective of someone who no longer has anything to lose from discussing the matter. In general, Carmack describes the acquisition as a favorable move for the company, and states that he wished Facebook had actually been more involved in steering Oculus, which is the exact opposite opinion of that held by Noam Bardin in regards to Google’s takeover of Waze.
While Bardin talks at length about a flood of new employees entering Waze with Google who didn’t have the right attitude for the job, Carmack reframes the thought, writing, “The wealth of the mega corps does allow most goals to be accomplished, at great expense, with Just A Job workers, but people that have experienced being embedded with Really Care workers are going to be appalled at the relative effectiveness.” With Oculus as successful as ever, it certainly appears that many of the workers at the company today are of the passionate variety.
Of course, Carmack doesn’t attempt to dismiss Bardin’s negative experience of a big corporate acquisition, but merely provides an example of a more positive one. He also doesn’t shy away from some of the not-so-great aspects of the Facebook Oculus relationship, stating, “The communication culture does tend a bit passive-aggressive for my taste…” before going on to explain that he understands why it has to be that way with larger organizations. The programmer has recently had some pretty unique ideas about how to stop PS5 and Xbox Series X scalpers, but his other thoughts in the post on the Oculus Facebook acquisition are mostly similarly tame and considered.
At the end of the day, Noam Bardin and John Carmack had largely different experiences. While Bardin seems to regret seeing his company change under Google’s corporate environment, John Carmack wrote of Facebook acquiring Oculus, “All in all, not a perfect fairy tale outcome, but I still consider taking the acquisition offer as the correct thing for the company in hindsight.” With more success and a larger library of games coming to Oculus sets, including some excellent horror games for the Oculus Quest 2, it would be hard to disagree with Carmack’s assessment.