Palmer Luckey this week claimed in no uncertain terms that he was fired from Oculus owner Facebook.
Luckey, a co-founder at Oculus and the inventor of the Rift, left Facebook in March 2017. This was following a 2016 story in which it emerged the then 24-year-old had given $10,000 to a pro-Trump group. He promptly stepped out of the limelight, disappearing from social media and skipping 2016’s Oculus Connect developer conference.
At the time of his departure, Facebook declined to comment on if Luckey left voluntarily. As recently as last November, though, the company denied firing him for political views in response to a Wall Street Journal article claiming otherwise.
“I Left Because I Got Fired”
In a recent interview with CNBC, though, Luckey directly stated that he was fired. “I left because I got fired,” he said in response to questions about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “I wouldn’t have left otherwise.”
When asked outright why he was fired, he replied: “Oh no reason at all, California’s an ‘at will’ state, they can terminate me for no reason or any reason at all. Of course, I gave $10,000 to a pro-Trump group and I think that had something to do with it.”
A recent book from author Blake Harris also gave an alleged account of Luckey’s departure, again claiming he was fired for his political views. Head of VR Product and Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell issued a statement to the book saying it “is not always consistent with what happened.”
Since Luckey’s departure other high-profile staff, including former CEO Brendan Iribe, have left Oculus. This week the company launched an upgraded version of the Rift called the Rift S. It also released a new standalone headset named Oculus Quest.
Luckey, meanwhile, now runs a defense technology company named Anduril Industries. Despite his departure from Facebook, he suggested that breaking up the company wouldn’t remedy recent issues in Silicon Valley. “I’m not convinced that getting rid of Mark is going to solve the problems,” he said.