Laird Malamed, COO of Oculus, runs in honor of Andrew Reisse ('01)

In early July on Twitter, Laird Malamed, the Chief Operating Officer of Oculus, announced that he will be running a charity marathon for two organizations for children as well as the Computer Science Department’s Andrew Reisse Memorial Scholarship:












Mr. Malamed will run this marathon in Vermont on his 48th birthday, July 12th.   This event also marks number thirty-three in his quest to run a marathon in all fifty states.   An accomplished marathoner, Malamed has already run a marathon on all seven continents.  He kindly agreed to an interview about how he met Andrew Reisse, whom he has called “the conscience of early Oculus,” his initial involvement in the scholarship, and his favorite marathon so far.  Mr. Malamed will be matching all donations made for the marathon personally.

Andrew Reisse was a 2001 graduate of the University of Maryland in Computer Science and Mathematics, and he was a co-founder and lead engineer of Oculus, a company specializing in Virtual Reality.  In June of 2013, at the age of 33, Mr. Reisse was the victim of a fatal hit and run involving a police chase.  To honor Mr. Reisse and his contributions to the company and the field of Virtual Reality, Mr. Malamed and Mr. Dan Offner (General Counsel) initially contacted the University of Maryland to establish the scholarship in Mr. Reisse's honor.  With endorsement and support of Mr. Brendan Iribe, the CEO of Oculus as well as the support of Dr. Robert (’70, ’76) and Mrs. Dana Reisse (’73), Reisse’s parents, the scholarship was underway.  Mr. Michael Antonov (BS Computer Science, ’03) was also involved in the funding of this scholarship.


When did you meet Andrew and what is the thing that you'd like most for people to know about him?

I first met Andrew when I started at Oculus in January 2013.  I would really credit Andrew with being the conscience of early Oculus.  He was very quiet and focused, but he was well read and in particular, he cared deeply about open source code.  When we worked on our funding agreement, he gave very considered feedback to our lawyer.  We knew if we could craft employee agreements Andrew had signed, we had done a good job.  Happily we were able to meet Andrew’s high bar. [Editor’s note: Mr. Malamed wrote his own piece about Mr. Reisse as well.]


When did you start running marathons, and what inspired you to start?

I started running in general to get in shape.  My father has too much weight on him (a heart attack this past year has finally convinced him to lose weight), and my grandmother was super obese when she did.  She lived into her 80s, but her last 5-10 years were not all that pleasant.  So, knowing this could be my genetic heritage, I decided to start eating well.  Eventually, my nutritionist encouraged me to exercise regularly. I was not super heavy - maybe about 20lbs more than I should be.  A friend suggested I try running which I did in February 2005.  I could barely get to the end of the block.  But I stuck with it and got up to a mile.  Then two.  I ran my first 5k (3.1 miles) race on July 4, 2005 - a sort of running Independence Day.  I loved it.  So, I tried a 10K.  I loved that two.  After a few smaller runs, I decided to try for a half-marathon.  Yep, that was great too.  So, I figured I had to run one marathon.  Mile 25 was horrible as I barely shuffled along, but a fellow runner rubbed my hat and encouraged me to keep going as he ran past.  Inspired, I started running again until the finish.  And then I was hooked.  That was March 2007.

Laird Malamed

What's your favorite place in the world that you've run a marathon, and where would you most like to run one?

My favorite place to run a marathon has been Antarctica.  After my second marathon, I learned you could run one all seven continents.  So, that was my first goal. I completed that goal in 2011.  Now I am working on running in each of the 50 states.  This fund raiser marathon is around the 33rd state.  So, I am very much looking forward to hoofing it through the hills of Vermont.  As to where I would always like to run?  I’ve been fortunate to run all over the world, but I would say the Himalayas would be a real challenge and thrill to do.  Happily, they have a marathon there too!

So far, Mr. Malamed has raised over $55,000 for the three organizations. With the donations gathered for the Andrew Reisse Memorial Scholarship, excellent students will be able to pursue their studies and interests, as Mr. Reisee did.

The Department welcomes comments, suggestions and corrections.  Send email to editor [-at-] cs [dot] umd [dot] edu.