Palmer Luckey to leave Facebook

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Company declined to say if Oculus co-founder is leaving voluntarily

Ever since Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey was discovered to be funding a pro-Trump “shitposting” group during the US election season, with some developers calling for Luckey’s immediate removal from the virtual reality company, the controversial executive has been almost hidden away, no longer asked to give public presentations, press interviews or to participate in trade events. Many wondered if parent company Facebook would remove Luckey, who in some ways had become a distraction for Oculus. Today, as first reported by UploadVR, it’s been revealed that Luckey’s last day at Oculus will be tomorrow, March 31.

“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,” a spokesperson said in a statement. What’s not clear, however, is if Facebook and Luckey came to a mutual agreement for his departure, if they flat-out fired him, or if he simply decided to pursue another opportunity. Facebook representatives said that they cannot discuss internal personnel matters.

Apart from the political web Luckey was trapped in, more recently he was at the center of the litigation between Oculus and Zenimax, when he was called as a witness alongside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to defend the company against allegations of intellectual property theft. As it turns out, while the court ruled that trade secrets were not misappropriated, it did find Oculus, and co-founders Brendan Iribe and Luckey, guilty of failing to comply with a non-disclosure agreement he signed. Consequently, they were ordered to pay ZeniMax $500 million for “false designation.” Facebook is looking to appeal the case, and meanwhile, Zenimax has filed for an injunction over Oculus code. Furthermore, Oculus CTO John Carmack has filed a lawsuit of his own against Zenimax, claiming that he is still owed over $22 million from Zenimax’s acquisition of his former studio id Software.

Legal entanglements aside, Luckey’s last day with Oculus comes roughly one year after he personally delivered the first consumer Oculus Rift to a pre-order customer in Alaska. Oculus has come a long way since then, as described by head of content Jason Rubin in our recent interview at GDC.

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