Meta’s Vivek Sharma, the company’s VP of its Horizon social VR platform, is leaving the company, as reported by Reuters. Meta spokesperson Bryan Pope confirmed Sharma’s departure to The Verge and said that Sharma is leaving to pursue an unrelated career opportunity.
Sharma’s departure is happening at a somewhat awkward time for Horizon. The metaverse is an enormous bet for Meta, with Horizon as one of its centerpieces, but the whole effort became something of a meme last week. To help promote Horizon Worlds’ launch in France and Spain, CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a screenshot in Horizon that prominently featured his dead-eyed avatar, which nearly instantly became a popular joke around the internet. Zuckerberg shared concept art of a more detailed avatar a few days later, but the damage had already been done. There’s even a Snapchat filter parodying Zuckerberg’s meme-ified look.
The meme moment and Sharma’s departure are likely only small blips for the company’s metaverse ambitions. Meta is charging forward with new hardware, including a new VR headset that Zuckerberg just yesterday said would be launching in October. And this week, the company introduced its new Meta accounts that let you use a Quest headset without having to log in to Facebook. But the metaverse is proving to be a costly venture so far. Last quarter, the company’s Reality Labs division reported losing $2.8 billion.
Sharma’s team will now report to Vishal Shah, Meta’s metaverse VP, Pope said.
“We’re thankful for Vivek’s contributions across our Marketplace, gaming and metaverse teams over the last six years and we wish him well,” Pope said in a statement. “Thanks to his leadership, the Horizon product group has built a strong team with an ambitious vision and it is just getting started. Meta continues to be a source for developing great leaders, and we’re excited to see what Vivek accomplishes in his next chapter.” Sharma didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.