Elon Musk gave his 16.7 million Twitter followers what he meant to send to the chief technology officer of virtual-reality company Oculus: his phone number.
“Do you have a sec to talk? My cell is …” Musk wrote from his account on Tuesday to John Carmack, the CTO of Facebook Inc.-owned Oculus. The Tesla Inc. chief executive officer quickly deleted the post.
The tweet invited speculation that Musk, 46, may have been trying to recruit Carmack or was seeking ways for Oculus to cooperate with any of the many businesses he runs. Those include the electric-car maker Tesla, rocket company SpaceX, artificial intelligence researcher OpenAI, brain-computer interface developer Neuralink and tunnel digger The Boring Company.
A Facebook spokeswoman said Carmack doesn’t plan to leave the company. Representatives for Tesla and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Virtual and augmented reality are playing significant roles in the development of autonomous cars. Engineers for companies including Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo are turning to simulation platforms to test and train their self-driving systems that are being primed to navigate vehicles as well as — or ideally better than — human drivers.
Facebook acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014. Carmack’s role in inventing some of the technology behind Oculus led to legal disputes with his former employer, ZeniMax Media Inc.
Before diving into virtual reality, Carmack built a company that attempted to make a craft for suborbital space tourism. After spending millions, he shuttered it in 2013. Still, he’s maintained an interest in the sector and has interacted with Musk over Twitter before. In January 2015, Musk tweeted photos of a SpaceX drone-landing ship at Carmack and said his motivation was to get the programmer back into aerospace technology, TechCrunch reported at the time.
A call placed to the number that Musk tweeted on Tuesday went to voicemail and played a message from the video game God of War. “By the Gods you’ve done it,” the message intones. “Somehow you’ve found your way here to me. I offer you my congratulations and my respect.”
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