Facebook Taps ‘The Sims’ GM Rachel Rubin Franklin as Head of Social VR

Todd Spangler

Facebook has hired Rachel Rubin Franklin, who’s been steeped in the world of digital avatars as executive producer and GM of Electronic Arts’ “The Sims,” as head of social VR to oversee development of new virtual-reality features for the social giant.

CTO Mike Schroepfer announced the addition of Franklin, who had been with EA since July 2011 and most recently was general manager of its Maxis unit overseeing the launch of best-selling title “The Sims 4,” to Facebook’s Social VR team in a post Tuesday.

Facebook, in conjunction with its Oculus VR hardware group, is developing new ways for the company’s 1 billion-plus daily users to share experiences and content with each other in virtual settings. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg previewed the social-VR features in his keynote last week at the Oculus Connect (pictured above), in which he interacted with staffer avatars and zoomed to different virtual scenes including underwater, on Mars and the Zuckerberg home.

Franklin joins other members of Facebook Social VR team including Lucy Bradshaw (also formerly with EA/Maxis) and Michael Booth (formerly with Blizzard Entertainment). Bradshaw and Booth hosted the Oculus Connect demo on stage with Zuckerberg.

“It is a blast to fuse the experience of people who have developed many successful immersive online worlds with engineers who have decades of collective experience building Facebook,” Schroepfer wrote in the post, which included a video of the Oculus Connect demo. He added a recruitment pitch: “As we demonstrated, we have ambitious goals and have lots to do, so if you are a game developer, designer, or artist… come join us!”

Prior to joining EA, Frankling was senior director of marketing and product manager for cloud-gaming company OnLive and earlier in her career worked at Activision.

Franklin holds a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and computer science from Carnegie Mellon U.

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