Facebook this week confirmed that Palmer Luckey, who co-founded Oculus VR, has left the company. The social media giant confirmed the news in a statement to UploadVR, and has since sent the same statement to other outlets.
Luckey, 24, became a legendary figure after he supposedly created a prototype virtual reality headset out of his parents’ garage in 2011. A year later, he struck it big on Kickstarter, raising over $2.5 million to fund the production of a more advanced version of the first prototype he built. Since then, the headset has gone through a number of iterations, including a consumer version that went on sale for $599 in 2016.
Palmer Luckey (middle) is pictured holding an award at CES 2014
A few years after Oculus’ successful Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook came knocking and purchased the young VR upstart for a whopping $2 billion. For a while, it seemed like Luckey, who was seen as a genius and an enthusiastic ambassador of VR technology, could do no wrong. Even a goofy Time magazine cover couldn’t dent his image. But he became a controversial figure last year after admitting he helped fund an internet trolling group that supported Donald Trump.
Additionally, Oculus had been locked in litigation after ZeniMax accused the VR company of stealing trade secrets. Facebook was eventually ordered to pay ZeniMax $500 million, though the social giant has since appealed the ruling.
Here is Facebook’s full statement:
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.
It’s unclear if Luckey left on his own volition or if he was forced out by Facebook executives. He’s been out of the public eye for a while, and now we know why. Luckey hasn’t yet said what he plans to do next.