Palmer Luckey leaves the company after three years.
Three years ago, Facebook bought Palmer Luckey’s start-up Oculus, maker of the Rift virtual reality headset. Now Luckey leaves the company. On Thursday, Facebbok issued a statement saying “Palmer will be dearly missed. 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 departure comes a short time after Facebook was faced with a lawsuit over Oculus’ virtual reality technology, and after Luckey’s political views became a source of controversy. Luckey apparently supported Donald Trump in the last US election, and Silicon Valley is heavily anti-Trump, leading many software developers to vow not to make applications for the platform.
Facebook was slammed with a lawsuit from ZeniMax, who accused Luckey and his collegues of stealing source code to help develop their virtual reality platform. The judge presiding over the case dismissed the notion that Oculus had stolen trade secrets, but did find the company guilty of copyright infringement, and ordered Facebook to pay $500 million (SGD 700 million) back in February. Of that amount, Luckey was told to pay $50 million, while his co-founder, Brendan Iribe, was demanded to pay $150 million. Zenimax had originally sought damages of $4 billion.
Oculus has stated that it wants to appeal the ruling, and is undeterred from their continued development of virtual reality gear. “Our commitment to the long-term success of VR remains the same, and the entire team will continue the work they’ve done since day one—developing VR technology that will transform the way people interact and communicate,” read a statement from Oculus statement.
Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014 for more than $2 billion (SGD 2.8 billion), and began selling Rift headsets last year as part of Facebook’s push towards virtual reality. Facebook recently hired Hugo Barra as their head of virtual reality. Barra, previously left Google in 2013, and has now left a top position at Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi to work at Facebook. “Hugo shares my belief that virtual and augmented reality will be the next major computing platform,” announced Mark Zuckerberg on his personal Facebook page.