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Oculus Co-Founder Palmer Luckey Out at Facebook

VR pioneer departing following recent string of controversies 3/30/2017 8:25 PM Eastern
Palmer Luckey (Image courtesy Facebook)

Palmer Luckey, the co-founder of VR pioneer, Oculus, is leaving Facebook, the company that acquired the VR pioneer in 2014 for $2 billion, according to multiple reports.

In a statement, Facebook told UploadVR and outher outlets that Luckey’s last day at the company is Friday, 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."

Luckey's departure comes in the wake of high-profile, controversial events involving him that had a negative effect on the VR company.

In February, Facebook was ordered to pay $500 million to ZeniMax after losing a lawsuit alleging that Luckey violated a non-disclosure agreement to create prototypes of the Oculus Rift VR headset. Facebook said then that it plans to appeal the judgement.

RELATED: Facebook Loses VR Lawsuit, But Will Appeal

Luckey, who gained some added notoriety for this bizarre Time cover and has been out of the public eye as of late, also came under the spotlight last fall for his involvement and financial contribution to Nimble America, a pro-Trump group. In response, he posted an apology on Facebook, saying that his actions negatively affected the perception of Oculus and its partners, but held that stories about his involvement with the group "do not accurately represent my views."

Luckey's departure also follows recent leadership changes at the company he co-founded. In January, Hugo Barra, an exec late of Xiaomi and Google, was hired to lead all of Facebook’s virtual reality efforts, including the team of Oculus.

RELATED: Oculus Splits Into Groups Focused on PC, Mobile VR

Oculus launched  the high-end, PC-connected Oculus Rift in early 2015, and recently reduced the price.

Oculus's technology also powers the Samsung Gear VR headset, Samsung has shipped more than 5 million Gear VRs, and this week introduced a bundle that includes a controller. Oculus also introduced a faster, richer version of its mobile platform for Gear VR.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been preaching patience about how rapidly VR gets a grip on the mainstream consumer marketplace.  

"I just think it’s going to be a 10-year thing," Zuckerberg said in February during Facebook's Q4 2016 earnings call, using the rise of the smartphone as an analogy for expectations around VR.

"If we can be on a similar trajectory of anywhere near 10 years for VR and AR, then I would feel very good about that," he said. "I think we're making the right bets now to plant the seeds for that, but I would ask for the patience of the investment community…because we're going to invest a lot in this and it's not going to return or really [be] profitable for us for quite a while."

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