Three years ago, a 21-year-old Palmer Luckey sold his virtual reality company Oculus to Facebook for $2 billion. Friday will be his last day with Facebook and the company he founded, which is the only reason anyone is talking about virtual reality in 2017.
Facebook didn't say why Luckey is leaving the company, but here's a pretty good guess: In September 2016, The Daily Beast exposed that Luckey was giving money to a pro-Donald Trump non-profit through a convoluted Reddit scheme, a story which he was later caught lying about. By looking at his Twitter activity, Motherboard later discovered that Luckey is sympathetic to many alt-right leaders and beliefs.
Facebook made no mention of this episode in its statement announcing Luckey's departure:
"Palmer will be dearly missed. 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."
Motherboard also spoke to a Facebook representative who would not comment beyond the Oculus statement.
Luckey's story fit neatly into Silicon Valley's entrepreneurial myth. In 2012, he was building prototypes in his parents' trailer in Long Beach, California. Two years later, he kickstarted a whole new industry and sold his company for billions of dollars. In that time, he was the face of the company, and the VR industry in general.
That is a very nice parting message from Facebook, but we haven't haven't heard a peep from Luckey since The Daily Beast story until today. According to UploadVR, which first broke the news of Luckey's departure, Facebook would not comment on whether his departure was voluntary, "citing a policy of not discussing internal personnel matters."