Could a Facebook deal revive Armadillo Aerospace? (updated)


John Carmack speaking at the QuakeCon conference in Dallas on August 1, 2013, in a screenshot from the webcast of his speech.

Last August, John Carmack announced that his small space venture, Armadillo Aerospace, was in “hibernation mode” because of a lack of funding. Carmack, discussing the status of Armadillo during a question-and-answer session during the QuakeCon conference in Dallas, said he was actively looking for outside investors willing to fund operations. “If we don’t wind up landing an investor, it’ll probably stay in hibernation until there’s another liquidity event where I’m comfortable throwing another million dollars a year into things,” he said at the time.

There’s been no news about Carmack finding an outside investor for Armadillo, but there may have been a “liquidity event” for Carmack. Days after his QuakeCon appearance, Carmack announced he had joined Oculus VR, a startup company pursuing virtual reality technology with a headset called Oculus Rift, as the company’s chief technology officer. Yesterday, Facebook announced it was acquiring Oculus VR in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $2 billion. That is a pretty big liquidity event.

How much of that windfall will go to Carmack, a relatively senior but recent hire by the company, is unclear, as is whether he’ll set aside any of that as “crazy money” with which he feels comfortable funding Armadillo. (He noted last August that funding the company “always been a negotiation with my wife.”) Since the deal was announced late yesterday, Carmack has indicated via Twitter that he’s busy focusing on Oculus software at the moment:

Update 3/30: Carmack, in a tweet posted Saturday evening, indicated that the windfall he expected to get from the Facebook acquisition of Oculus VR would help him get back into aerospace, but not in the immediate future:

In response to a question another person posed, Carmack played down the size of the money he would have available to any future space venture:

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