When Facebook acquired Oculus, a pioneer in the field of virtual reality headsets, the main person to build the prototype also joined the social networking giant. Now, Palmer Luckey, the main person behind the launch of the Oculus Rift, is leaving the company.
Why is Luckey leaving Facebook?
Oculus confirmed to TechCrunch that Luckey has finally decided to depart. After serving Facebook for three years, Friday will be his last working day at the company. Since Facebook’s policy is to not reveal internal personal matters, it declined to comment on if Luckey himself chose to depart or otherwise.
“Palmer will be dearly missed. Palmer’s legacy extends far beyond Oculus. His inventive spirit helped kickstart the modern VR revolution and build an industry. We’re thankful for everything he did for Oculus and VR, and we wish him all the best,” the company said in a statement.
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Luckey’s departure may be connected to the major executive shakeup at Oculus. Following the shakeup, the company got more closely integrated with Facebook after ex-Xiaomi executive Hugo Barra was appointed as VP of VR. This led many to ponder the role of the 24-year-old in the company.
Meanwhile, sales numbers for the Oculus Rift have yet to be revealed. The gadget was launched in September. Investors are worried about whether the product will be able to compete with rivals like HTC’s Vive and PlayStation VR. Recently, the company asked investors to be patient with the Rift’s ability, admitting that parts of the business are “a little behind.”
Events leading up to Luckey’s departure
Luckey is different from a host of other young entrepreneurs. He is not some rich guy who made it into one of the top universities and founded a company with friends he made in school.
Rather, he was a college droup-out and posted several messages on boards seeking help from interested and capable people to help him in his garage, where he disassembled and then assembled game consoles, notes TechCrunch. Later, he developed a keen interest in 3D screens and head-mounted displays.
Just a year ago, Luckey himself hand over an Oculus Rift to one lucky customer from Alaska who had pre-ordered it. It was a bit surprising to see Luckey disappearing from the public eye after that. His absence was felt the most during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and was seen only when going in for a court appearance, notes Uploadvr.
ZeniMax dragged Facebook into a lawsuit, accusing it and Oculus of stealing trade secrets. Oculus CTO John Carmack was employed with ZeniMax previously. Later, the court ruled in Zenimax’s favor, ordering Facebook to pay $500 million as compensation.
Luckey also faced accusations of being connected to Nimble America, a right-wing, anti-Clinton group. When asked about it, he only admitted to making donations to the group and nothing beyond that.
In a post on September 23, Luckey said, “I am deeply sorry that my actions are negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners. The recent news stories about me do not accurately represent my views.”