(Adds background on Sharma and Horizon unit)
By Katie Paul and Stephen Nellis
Aug 26 (Reuters) - Meta Platforms Inc's chief of its virtual reality social platform Horizon, the main gateway for accessing the metaverse that the company is pouring billions of dollars into building, is leaving for a new opportunity, he told Reuters on Friday.
A spokesman for Facebook-owner Meta confirmed the departure of Vice President Vivek Sharma and said his team would report directly to Vishal Shah, vice president of Metaverse.
Sharma declined to elaborate.
Sharma was responsible for developing the persistent, immersive virtual environment that users experience when inside Meta's metaverse, primarily accessible via the company's virtual reality devices such as its Oculus headsets.
Although the business associated with the company's virtual worlds is still nascent, the aim is to make those worlds the main place where brands and third-party developers can reach Meta's user base if the metaverse takes off.
Platforms created by Sharma's team include Horizon Worlds, an expansive VR world-building platform, and Horizon Venues, which is focused on virtual events.
Horizon Workrooms, a virtual conferencing technology aimed at business customers, is run by Meta's enterprise-focused "home and work" division.
Sharma's departure comes on the heels of an embarrassing episode for Meta involving Horizon Worlds, in which critics mocked the graphics quality of Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's avatar after he posted a screenshot of it on Facebook.
Zuckerberg posted a second image days later showing a more sophisticated avatar. He acknowledged that the earlier image was "pretty basic" and promised "major updates to Horizon and avatar graphics coming soon."
Sharma, who has been with Meta for more than five years, was previously vice president of product for Facebook Gaming and Facebook Marketplace. (Reporting by Katie Paul and Stephen Nellis; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang)