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Oculus CEO steps down to lead new PC virtual reality group

VR's getting so big that the Facebook-owned company is now tackling it in two ways, one powered by PCs and the other powered by phones.

Brendan Iribe is leaving the top job at Oculus.
James Martin/CNET

Oculus is shaking things up.

Brendan Iribe, CEO of the Facebook-owned virtual reality company, said Tuesday he's leaving the top job to lead a new division within the company.

Oculus will be split into two groups: one focused on developing VR that's powered by personal computers, and one for VR that's powered by mobile phones. Iribe said he'll be leading the PC group.

"As we've grown, I really missed the deep, day-to-day involvement in building a brand new product on the leading edge of technology," he wrote in a blog post. "You do your best work when you love what you're working on. If that's not the case, you need to make a change. With this new role, I can dive back into engineering and product development."

Virtual reality has become an obsession for Silicon Valley. Partly it's the technological challenge, partly it's the opportunity to create a whole new demand for gadgets and the apps that make them engaging. Revenue for the worldwide VR market in 2017 should reach $5.4 billion, SuperData Research said Tuesday, though it warned that profits on the technology may be hard to come by.

Google last month released its new Daydream View headset, and Oculus has long partnered with Samsung to make its Gear VR headsets.

When Facebook bought Oculus two years ago, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he thought VR would be the next wave of computing. Earlier this year, Oculus released its flagship product, a headset called the Rift. Earlier this month the company came out with controllers for the device.

Jon Thomason, who joined Oculus earlier this year after leading the mobile shopping division at Amazon, will lead Facebook's new mobile VR group.

Mike Schroepfer, CTO of Facebook, will work with both Iribe and Thomason to find a new leader for Oculus, the blog post said.

In his new role, Iribe said he'll be working on "pushing the state of VR forward with Rift, research and computer vision."