Palmer Luckey leaves Oculus VR

March 31, 2017 | 11:09

Tags: #donald-trump #john-carmack #lawsuit #palmer-luckey #total-recall #vr

Companies: #facebook #oculus-rift #oculus-vr #zenimax

Facebook has confirmed that Palmer Luckey, controversial co-founder of Oculus VR and the man at the centre of multiple lawsuits alleging everything from theft of intellectual property to breach of contract, is leaving the company effective immediately.

Initially funded by traditional venture capital, Oculus VR came to the attention of the public following the launch of a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign for its Oculus Rift Developer Kit. More money soon followed, and the company began to attract some big names from the industry including id Software co-founder John Carmack. While component shortages led to delays in getting upgraded versions of the headset to market, the company made enough of a stir that it was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in March 2014 - and that's when the company's troubles really began.

Zenimax, the company which currently owns id Software, started by accusing Carmack of IP theft, and filed suit later that month, while a second lawsuit against Oculus VR and co-founder Palmer Luckey by Total Recall, a company for which Luckey was developing a prototype VR headset prior to the founding of Oculus VR, also hit the dockets. A string of delays helped competitors including HTC's Vive and Sony's PlayStation VR gain traction, and in December last year the company lost its chief executive and split into two in a seeming effort to boost its influence in the wallet-friendly mobile VR arena.

For Luckey, though, the issues have been rather more personal. While the Total Recall suit was dismissed when the company's two founders couldn't agree on its merits, Luckey himself has been under fire for his political views and financial support of the successful campaign to have Donald Trump elected as the US President - in particular a $10,000 donation to Nimble America, a pro-Trump group which dedicated itself to social media influence and claimed that it had 'proven shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real.'

'You and I are the same. We know Hillary Clinton is corrupt, a warmonger, a freedom-stripper. Not the good kind you see dancing in bikinis on Independence Day, the bad kind that strips freedom from citizens and grants it to donors. I reached out to the leaders of this community because I am doing everything I can to help make America great again. I have already donated significant funds to Nimble America, and will continue to do so,' Luckey posted to reddit under the account 'NimbleRichMan.' 'I need your help: For the next 48 hours, I will match your donations dollar for dollar. Donate $10 and I will match you by flying my jet a minute less. Donate a hundred and I will match you by skipping a glass of scotch. Donate a thousand and I will match by putting off the tire change on my car. Am I bragging? Will people be offended? Yes, but those people already hate Donald. They cannot stand to see successful people who are proud of their success. Let’s generate some success of our own. Make America great again with your meme magic, centipedes of The Donald!'

Following Luckey's admission that he was 'NimbleRichMan,' some companies pulled their support of Oculus Rift until Luckey was replaced at the company - and now that's exactly what Facebook appears to have done. 'Palmer will be dearly missed,' a Facebook spokesperson has confirmed in a statement first published by Road to VR. '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.'

The company has refused to comment on the reasons for Luckey's departure.
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