Going Indie: Leaving Oculus
July 2017 will be my last month at Oculus, the VR company I’ve been a part of since the beginning of 2014 (3.5 years WHAT).
What’s next for me? I will be heading to Raw Fury as Chief [insert important sounding title here] to help them find indie games, fund them, and ship them. To steal a phrase from a friend of mine, Nick Suttner, I bleed indie — and it’s time for me to do that full time.
Raw Fury are probably 1% of the size of Oculus in terms of team size. I’ll be able to irritate everyone at the company at once, and that very much appeals to me. I didn’t even realise I wanted to join them until I had lunch with the CEO, Jonas, at GDC. We spent the whole time waxing lyrical about state of the industry, how people should treat each other, how publishers should treat devs, how we’re all as fucked up as each other, no matter our position or company we work for. I came out of that lunch with a smile on my face. I knew I had found my next home. Also they published Gonner and Kingdom… if you’ve played those games, I need say no more. My plan is to help them find the next pieces to that growing tapestry of games. I’ll be scouting out games, funding them, helping indies, and generally doing what I love best.
Alongside Raw Fury, I am planning on doing the odd bit of consultancy here and there. I can’t leave Silicon Valley completely, OK?
I care about diversity, about being kind to each other, about individual developers, about things that make me feel something, my family, and doing the right thing. I’m taking all those attitudes to Raw Fury, hopefully those of you that worked with me have seen some of that over the past few years.
FINALLY, in order to do this, I had to form a company, so I named it after my two stupid dogs — Robot Teddy. In future, please just found your companies in the UK, thanks.
Don’t feel the need to read the rest of this post — the important bits are above. What follows next is a rambling walk through my memories at Oculus and a thank you to everyone I’ve worked with. It can be summed up with the gif below.
Ok so, here’s some stuff.
It’s been over three and a half years since I first started at Oculus. I don’t know my exact employee number, but according to the excel spreadsheet we used to track each other’s important details such as phone number, emails, and Steam ID, I was in the low 60s. I joined around a week before Atman Binstock, and asked him who he was at the coffee machine. His response of “Atman” was met with a fairly blank stare. I improved my “pretend to have heard of people” face since then I think.
I’ve always been slightly estranged at Oculus and Facebook, being one of the only people to work from home remotely, and the only member of my team not based in the office in Menlo Park, US. With that said, Oculus, and the people within it, completely changed my life. The company bent over backwards to make sure my time here has been fulfilling, stress free, and exciting. If I wasn’t so set on going small again, I’d be at Oculus for a long, long time.
Some examples of how Oculus has been amazing to me:
- They approved a small office for me in my hometown so I could have meetings in there with developers rather than having to move my family to London
- I took 6 weeks off for depression and anxiety back in 2015 — no questions asked, and with the full support of my group.
- 4 months paternity leave are you freaking kidding me. Props to Zuckerberg for actually responding to my email asking why we only got 4 weeks in the UK, about 2 weeks before they changed it!
Seriously, this company changed the path of my life, and I can’t thank them enough for all of that. However, more than the people at Oculus, it’s the developers that really made me happy. I don’t want to list any, because I’ve worked with so many — but you folks know you are. I’ve tried to champion diversity over the past few years — both of people and content style. If I leave any legacy at Oculus, I want it to be the fact that I feel I have been honest with each and every developer I’ve worked with, often to the potential detriment of any relationship. You know what’s awesome? I’ve made some of the best friends I have in this industry by telling them their game sucks. What other industry can you do that in?
My time at Oculus has been insane, fun, and truly life changing. From taking a bunch of devs to Venice beach, to arranging a breakfast at the closest place to OC3 venue and it turning out it had a Vive in it, to having to purchase 30 Samsung Galaxy phones in an airport, to drilling one of the only DK2 cameras at EVE Fanfest because it wasn’t working and Valkyrie needed to be shown, to the time I took devs to Roscoes Chicken Waffle house, to the time I was taken caving in Iceland as my first meeting, to constantly inviting developers to my room to try secret hardware, to accidentally losing the only DK2 in Europe for 2 days and panicking the Oculus lawyers, to sitting on Sergio’s bed getting Dreadhalls to work on a DK2 for a whole day, to literally everything I did with the SUPERHOT team, to giving Owlchemy shit, to the VR Dev Slack, to being the most unprofessional Dev Rel person out there, to the occasional panic at seeing my tweet on /r/vive, to waking up to the shitstorm that was Giant Cop, Croteam, and SUPERHOT, to doing all this whilst having a son with my beautiful wife, and finally, to making friends I will keep for life.
To Aaron Davies — thank you for taking a risk on me all those years ago. It is because of you that I joined Oculus.
This industry is special, it’s new, and it’s young. I’m not leaving it, I will continue to stay involved, and continue to help people wherever I can.
I will spend the next few weeks regretting my decision to leave, passing over contacts to my colleagues, and helping Oculus replace me (this part at least should not be difficult :)). If I never did buy you that beer, now is the time to ask whilst it’s on FB’s dime (sorry FB).