Oculus Rift Creator Palmer Luckey Departs Facebook Following Tumultuous Legal Battle

Palmer Luckey is leaving Facebook. The Oculus co-founder came up with the Rift and is largely responsible for popularizing VR. Now he departs the world's largest social network three years after selling his company to Facebook. Today will be his last day on the job. Publicly, the parting of ways between Luckey and Facebook is amicable, with Facebook putting out a statement wishing him well.

"Palmer will be dearly missed," Facebook said in a statement. "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."

Palmer Luckey
Image Source: Flickr (eVRydayVR)

It is not clear if Luckey voluntarily decided to leave Facebook or if he was pressured into doing so. Either way, it's an unfortunate end to his official involvement with Oculus and the Rift headset that he brought to Kickstarter several years ago. It was also perhaps inevitable after Luckey fessed up to and apologized for contributing $10,000 to Nimble America, a pro-Trump "s**tposting" group

"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," wrote in a Facebook post on September 23, 2016.

Luckey went on to explain that he did not write any of Nimble America's posts, and that he wasn't an employee of the company. It was the last public statement Luckey made before fading out of public view. His disappearance from the public eye was perhaps an attempt to diffuse the situation.

Two months after that post, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage at Oculus Connect developer conference to talk about social VR. Luckey did not attend, as he did not want to be a distraction. He was still employed at Facebook.

In January of this year, Luckey spoke out about Oculus, though it was as a witness in a lawsuit. ZeniMax was suing Facebook for alleged intellectual property theft, and both Luckey and Zuckerberg took the stand to defend against the allegations. A jury ultimately decided that Oculus had not misappropriated any trade secrets, but that Luckey did not comply with a non-disclosure agreement he signed when working at ZeniMax. Collectively, he and fellow Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe were ordered to pay ZeniMax $500 million.

Where Luckey goes from here or what his next venture will be is not known.

Thumbnail Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Dcoetzee)