A shake up in the VR world and Paramount’s new CEO mark some of the week’s biggest job moves.
Palmer Luckey announced that he will be leaving Oculus VR, three years after it was acquired by Facebook. The Oculus Rift headset creator did not provide a reason for his departure, but the announcement comes after a long period of seclusion following a Daily Beast story that revealed that he contributed money to a far-right political group called Nimble America during the 2016 US Presidential Elections, sparking controversy. Until then, he had been the face of the company, speaking at events and gracing the cover of Time Magazine. Luckey issued an apology for his actions in a Facebook post six months and has not appeared publicly since, except to testify at in court in a lawsuit between Oculus VR and game publisher, Zenimax. Today is Luckey’s last day with the company he co-founded.
Stephanie Llamas, head of VR/AR strategy at SuperData Research, suggested that Luckey’s departure could be beneficial for Oculus’ long-term success, stating:
“This is a long time coming. Oculus is failing compared to its competitors and Luckey’s reputation certainly hasn’t helped. With his donation scandal (he donated to an anti-Clinton site) and his part in the Zenimax lawsuit (he was cited as breaking NDA), Facebook has pushed him further and further into the background. There are plenty of VR professionals who can both offer unique skill sets to Oculus and stay out of the press, so his role has become increasingly redundant.”
Relatedly, Facebook has hired Michael Hillman, a senior ex-Apple employee, to head Oculus VR’s hardware design. Hillman has 15 years of experience with design and engineering at Apple, and he will use that expertise to help bring VR hardware to the mainstream.
Viacom has officially named Jim Gianopulos as CEO and chairman of Paramount Pictures. The movie industry veteran brings over three decades of global entertainment experience to the company and his role begins on April 3.
BitTorrent named Rogelio Choy as its new CEO as the technology company prepares to spin off its BitTorrent Live service into a separate company. BitTorrent founder, Bram Cohen, is expected to step away from the company’s daily operations to focus on a new crypto-currency project while Choy replaces Dipak Joshi, who has been serving as interim CEO.
NBC has promoted three unscripted television executives in its alternative programming division. Jenny Groom is taking over as head of the department. At the same time, Lesley Cerwin has been made senior vice president or current programming while Shelby Shaftel has been promoted to vice president of programming and development.
Angela Courtin is stepping down as EVP and CMO at Fox Broadcasting after having been with the company for a year-and-a-half. No replacement has been named yet.
Comcast has hired former global head of live video at Amazon, Euan McLeod as the head of its internet video engineering team. He will be responsible for leading Comcast VIPER (Video IP Engineering and Research), the engineering team that designs, develops and deploys software for internet-based video across TV, mobile and connected devices.
MGM announced that it has hired Sam Toles, the former head of Vimeo’s entertainment group, to the newly created role of VP of digital and new platforms. The hiring comes at a time when the studio is increasing its focus on new forms of content for internet-video platforms.
Google Ventures brought on Craig Kornblau, the former chief at Universal Studios home entertainment, as its first media and entertainment advisor.
Global entertainment company, Topgolf has brought former Starbucks COO, Troy Alstead to its board of directors.
Video game peripheral maker Mad Catz announced today that it is ceasing operations and filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy. The company said in a statement that it was in the process of initiating “an orderly liquidation of the assets of the company.”
Digital games seller, Green Man Gaming has appointed Sam Bennett as EVP of customer experience and communications.
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