Oculus co-founder joins Facebook's list of acquisition departures

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Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe is out the door at Facebook.
Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe is out the door at Facebook. Credit: Illustration by Tam Nguyen/ Ad Age

Facebook is losing another long-tenured founder from an acquired company: Brendan Iribe, who was the chief executive officer of Oculus VR when Facebook bought it in 2014.

"This will be the first real break I've taken in over 20 years," Iribe wrote on his Facebook page, without giving a specific reason for his departure. "It's time to recharge, reflect and be creative."

Iribe was most recently the vice president of computer-tethered virtual reality. His departure comes shortly after the founders of Instagram and the CEO of WhatsApp also left the Facebook-controlled units. The purchase of Instagram, for $715 million in 2012, demonstrated that Facebook, as a parent company, could successfully keep an acquired company independent and under the leadership of its founders. That helped lure WhatsApp, for $22 billion, and Oculus, for $2 billion, both in 2014.

After the founders' exits, all of Facebook's biggest acquired properties are now under tighter control by Facebook, showing that while the arrangement for independence is appealing, it's temporary.

Iribe had already stepped away from CEO duties at Oculus. In December 2016, he shifted to a role that focused more narrowly on the company's computer-connected Oculus Rift devices. A month later, the company hired Hugo Barra from Xiaomi to run its virtual reality products under Andrew Bosworth, a long-time Facebook executive. Palmer Luckey, the Oculus founder credited with inventing the Rift device, left shortly thereafter.

--Bloomberg News

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