Where in the world is Palmer Luckey? Well, he isn't at Facebook.
Last week in San Jose, California, thousands of mostly youngish white guys attended Oculus VR's third annual developer's conference. Over three days in the San Jose Convention Center, attendees milled from one talk to another and hit up parties with open bars and plenty of food. VR demos were on offer in the hallways, and Mark Zuckerberg gave a keynote speech where he talked about the future of virtual reality and demoed Facebook's social VR app. It was all about what you'd expect, save for one notable absence. Palmer Luckey, the 24-year-old founder of Oculus VR, the company that makes the Oculus Rift headset, was nowhere to be found.
In 2014, Palmer Luckey, the 24-year-old whiz kid who was one of VR's most prominent evangelists, sold his company, Oculus, to Facebook for a cool $US2 billion ($2.6 billion) in 2014. He has (almost) totally disappeared after The Daily Beast revealed last year he was collaborating with Milo Yiannopoulos to fund a pro-Trump "shitposting" operation.
Here's a statement from Facebook first reported by UploadVR and later confirmed to Gizmodo by Facebook PR:
Palmer 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.
Palmer recently testified in an intellectual property lawsuit that alleged he was complicit in the theft of trade secrets from ZeniMax. Facebook was ordered to pay ZeniMax $500 million, and is currently appealing the ruling. The lawsuit questioned Luckey and Oculus’s origin story—that Luckey built the Oculus in his parent’s garage — and said that Oculus used technology built by former a ZeniMax employee who is now CTO at Oculus, John Carmack.
Luckey’s fall from grace has been slow and painful. He was featured on the cover of Time following his big sale to Facebook. Today’s departure comes almost exactly a year after the launch of the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset, but in the time since he’s completely disappeared. Recently, Facebook said the Luckey would be transitioning to a new role in the company. Today’s news confirms what should’ve been clear six months ago: Luckey’s days were numbered.