Facebook announced this week that Palmer Luckey, cofounder of the social network’s virtual reality (VR) division, has departed. The controversial VR visionary has left the social networking giant three years after selling his startup Oculus VR to the Internet company for $2 billion. He was closely associated with the rise to prominence of Oculus and its virtual reality goggles, which was released for sale early last year.
The 24-year-old virtual reality visionary who helped kickstart the recent virtual reality craze has left the social networking giant after a year that announced the debut of the consumer version of the Rift VR visor but also a number of lawsuits. Facebook has provided no details about why Palmer Luckey exited or what he planned to do next.
Oculus said that the company founder will be dearly missed. It noted that Luckey’s legacy extends far beyond the VR startup. His inventiveness helped kickstart the modern virtual reality revolution and create an industry. Menlo Park is known for its formidable PR vehicle. The company CEO has a special team to ensure he maintains a positive public image.
Bloomberg notes that Menlo Park began distancing itself from Palmer Luckey after reports surfaced that he was backing a group that made anti-Hillary Clinton memes for the web ahead of the United States presidential election. In a September Facebook post, Luckey apologized for how his actions may have negatively impacted those connected to the social network’s VR unit.
Palmer Luckey is leaving Facebook Inc. three years after the $2 billion Oculus deal. The VR startup confirmed the report of the Oculus founder in a statement that reads about as much as a eulogy as it does as a farewell. The announcement comes months after the VR pioneer’s political participation stirred up a firestorm at Oculus.
Android Headlines notes that the possibility of Palmer Luckey’s exit from Menlo Park originally came up following 2016’s revelation that Luckey donated $10,000 to Nimble America, a far-right organization supporting the then presidential candidate Donald Trump. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Long Beach entrepreneur said he was a libertarian and planned to vote for third-party candidate Gary Johnson.
Luckey’s exit caps a troubled period for the Facebook-owned VR company, which lost around $500 million in court cases against media company Zenimax. The case was partially brought about because the Rockville company said that Zenimax had stolen the firms’ trade secrets in 2014.
Palmer Luckey is leaving Facebook a year after the first consumer version of the Rift visors was launched. He served as a face of Oculus, appearing on lists of young entrepreneurs to watch, magazine covers, and had the responsibility of convincing developers to program for Facebook’s VR unit. Menlo Park has declined to disclose the reason for his departure citing an internal policy preventing them from discussing matters related to the firm’s personnel.
By Anila Maring