Oculus co-founder and VR pioneer Palmer Luckey issued a statement Friday night in response to a Daily Beast report revealing his involvement in a pro-Trump organization called Nimble America. He apologized, but also refuted details in The Daily Beast's report. However, emails obtained by Motherboard show that Luckey didn't tell the whole truth either to The Daily Beast reporters or in his Facebook statement about the extent of his involvement in the organization.
"I am deeply sorry that my actions are negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners," Luckey said in a Facebook post. "The recent news stories about me do not accurately represent my views."
According to The Daily Beast, Luckey raised money for a pro-Donald Trump non-profit through a convoluted Reddit scheme. Luckey was named as the mysterious "NimbleRichMan," a reddit poster funding the organization. NimbleRichMan and several r/The_Donald mods asked members of the subreddit to contribute, but they revolted, challenging the legitimacy of Nimble America. As Motherboard reported on Friday, Luckey's Twitter activity has been sympathetic to the alt-right and the bigotry that defines it since March of this year.
Luckey's Facebook post confirmed that he contributed $10,000 to Nimble America, but said he "did not write the 'NimbleRichMan' posts." He also said he did not found the organization, and that he does not plan to give the group any more money. Finally, he said he planned to vote for the libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson.
One of The Daily Beast reporters who wrote the story, Gideon Resnick, told Motherboard that Luckey isn't telling the whole truth about not writing the NimbleRichMan posts, and emails shared with us confirm Resnick's version of the story.
The emails show that Resnick directly asked if Luckey authored the post asking for donations, in which he said he "has supported Donald's presidential ambitions for years," and that Hillary Clinton is a "freedom-stripper. Not the good kind you see dancing in bikinis on independence day." Luckey told Resnick that he did write the post "with guidance from the Nimble America guys."
"A generous understanding of the situation is that in other instances, besides the donation one, he was given a password and used the account occasionally," Resnick told me over Twitter. "So is there wiggle room in the sense that it's not clear if he wrote each and every post? Perhaps. But he's not telling the whole truth in terms of his involvement."
"Still, my actions were my own and do not represent Oculus," Luckey said in his Facebook statement. "I'm sorry for the impact my actions are having on the community."
Luckey's statement implies The Daily Beast story, r/The_Donald, other members of Nimble America, or all of the above have misrepresented his role in this controversy.
However, the post doesn't help explain his alt-right leaning Twitter activity, or liking many of the pro-Trump tweets from his girlfriend Nikki Moxxi, who deleted her Twitter presence yesterday. Also note that Luckey is "deeply sorry" that this controversy has negatively impacted Oculus itself in light of the backlash from the VR development community—not the people who have been the subject of r/The_Donald's racism, misogyny, homophobia, and Islamophobia.
Palmer posted the apology from his personal Facebook page; Facebook itself (which acquired Oculus for $2 billion in 2014) has yet to make an official comment.