Oculus co-founder and Rift creator, Palmer Luckey, is leaving the company according to a statement.
As first reported by Upload, Luckey’s last day at the company is March 31. The company, which is owned by Facebook, issued the following statement:
“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.”
Facebook did not provide a reason for the departure or confirm if it was voluntary, citing company policy. The news comes just three years after Facebook bought the virtual reality startup.
Palmer Luckey and Oculus have been in the news a lot recently, often for the wrong reasons. Luckey himself has been almost completely silent since the publication of a Daily Beast article last year linking him to a pro-Trump organization. The organization, Nimble America, used trolling and memes to voice an anti-Hilary Clinton message.
The article was published on September 22, 2016. Luckey’s last tweet from his verified account was a link to an apology post on Facebook from September 26, 2016. The outrage over the incident was so severe that Luckey skipped an annual Oculus developer conference to avoid “being a distraction” according to Oculus executive Jason Rubin.
Oculus and Facebook have also spent nearly 3 years dealing with a lawsuit from Zenimax Media. Zenimax was the former employer of John Carmack before he moved on to Oculus. The lawsuit, which is expertly broken down by Business Insider, argued that Carmack used technology and trade secrets taken from his time at id Software in developing the Rift.
The trial recently concluded and although Oculus was deemed innocent of stealing secrets they were still penalized. Jurors awarded Zenimax $500 million in damages for things like violation of non-disclosure agreements and copyright infringement.
Regardless of personal or political views on Palmer Luckey, he was extremely important to VR’s success. The early Oculus Rift headsets were one of the first modern VR headsets to make it into consumer hands. Facebook has not spoken about how this change will affect Oculus.