Oculus Cofounder Palmer Luckey Is Officially Leaving Facebook, Just A Year After The Rift Launched
Palmer Luckey is exiting Facebook effective Friday, March 31, the company confirmed, though giving no clarification as to what might have compelled the exit or if it’s voluntary. Luckey is the cofounder of virtual reality startup Oculus, one of the few grab-bag names that have pioneered the incipient but rapidly forwarding technology.
Palmer Luckey Bids Farewell To Facebook
Luckey is possibly the most recognized name in the VR and VR hardware, following the unveiling of Oculus’s first public prototype in 2012 and the official release of the first commercial Oculus headset, named the Rift, in March last year.
It’s official: Palmer Luckey is leaving Facebook, three years after Facebook acquired the company he cofounded. The exit follows Luckey’s thinning public appearances, high-profile lawsuits, and a recent corporate shakeup.
( Bryan Steffy | Getty Images )
Luckey’s Thinning Public Appearances
Luckey’s public role on Facebook has been greatly reduced since this past September, when a flurry of reports alleged that he surreptitiously funded a Donald Trump support group that created memes attacking then-presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Luckey offered an apology afterward, pressed by a number of developers threatening to leave the platform, but not before denying the claims first. Since then, his public appearances have run far and few in between, if none at all. He was even absent in Oculus’s annual Connect conference in October 2016, which many people found surprising.
Facebook is known for its formidable PR vehicle, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a special team to ensure he maintains a positive public image. It was, therefore, unsurprising that Luckey’s public appearances slimmed.
Oculus, Facebook, And ZeniMax Media
Luckey did, however, make an appearance very recently at a trial in January, in which id Software owner ZeniMax Media accused Oculus of trade secret theft. While the company wasn’t guilty on the worst part of those accusations, Facebook had to pay $500 million for various related charges. In addition, Luckey was found liable to pay $50 million in damages because he was found to have violated his NDA with ZeniMax Media.
A Facebook representative has confirmed Luckey’s departure, as first spotted by UploadVR, and in a statement, it expressed how he “will be dearly missed.”
“Palmer’s legacy extends far beyond Oculus. His inventive spirit helped kickstart the modern VR revolution and helped build an industry. We’re thankful for everything he did for Oculus and VR, and we wish him all the best.”
In December, Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe stepped down from his post to lead the company’s PC division, with ex-Xiaomi executive Hugo Barra occupying his just-vacated seat. The shakeup left the company more embedded beneath Facebook, and many wondered what the move would mean for Luckey.
Also, in December, it was reported that Luckey was still with Facebook and that the company would share more information about his “new role” soon. Turns out there aren’t any roles to be had after all.
Oculus began as a Kickstarter campaign, which brought the interest of a number of investors. It was eventually purchased by Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion. Luckey hasn’t given any word on how much he earned from the inked deal.
Thoughts about Luckey’s Facebook exit? Any predictions about the future of Oculus sans Luckey? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!
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