The first employee hired to work on the Oculus Rift at Oculus VR – the virtual reality headset company Facebook paid $2 billion for – is quitting.
“Chris Dycus, employee number 1, out,” he wrote in a Facebook post on May 15.
Dycus was a hardware engineer at Oculus VR, where he worked on early prototypes of the Oculus Rift headset as well as the final consumer model that launched in 2016. He was hired in 2012 by founder Palmer Luckey directly; they were longtime friends before Dycus became the first Oculus employee.
“I am a little disappointed I won’t make it to my 5 year Oculus anniversary – only 2.5 months away! Oh well,” he wrote in his Facebook post.
It sounds like Dycus is leaving under amicable terms. He wrote that he’s leaving for a startup that, “really sounds like something I want to do,” though he doesn’t explicitly say where he’s going other than “to beautiful, sunny SoCal.”
Dycus was part of the original crew that started Oculus VR, long before it was purchased by Facebook for $2 billion. Some of that crew remains in place at Oculus – Nate Mitchell, Michael Antonov, and Brendan Iribe (seen above) are still with the company. The company’s founder and poster boy, Palmer Luckey, exited earlier this year following an anti-Clinton political donation controversy.
- Matt Weinberger Business Insider
Though Dycus is leaving on seemingly amicable terms, the past year for Oculus VR was rife with trouble:
- The Oculus Rift headset launch was marred by shipment issues for some customers. Oculus VR (and, by extension, Facebook) was chastised by some gamers and developers for locking away games behind exclusivity deals. The company’s big retail push at Best Buy stores fizzled out when customers stopped using the demo headset on display. Founder and figurehead, Palmer Luckey, became embroiled in controversy when The Daily Beast revealed Luckey’s financial support of a group that described itself as, “We’ve proven that s***posting is powerful and meme magic is real.”
The next project from Oculus VR, an Oculus Rift that operates without the assistance of a powerful gaming PC, is currently in the works.
It’s codenamed the “Santa Cruz” prototype, and it’s a bit of a step down from the experience offered on the first Oculus Rift. Instead of targeting so-called “high-end” virtual reality – the kind of VR powered by a powerful gaming PC or game console – the Santa Cruz prototype is aiming to compete with the likes of Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Daydream in the mobile VR space.
Facebook declined to comment on Dycus’ departure, but confirmed he had left, and that he was the first company employee after the founders.