Who is Palmer Luckey? Oculus founder's net worth; history with Meta

  • Palmer Luckey founded Oculus and sold it to Meta for $2 billion.

  • He was fired from Meta two years later.

  • Luckey went on to become the founder of defense-tech startup Anduril Industries.

Palmer Luckey was 20 years old when he founded the virtual reality company Oculus VR in 2012. And just two years later, he sold it to Meta for $2 billion in cash and stock.

Luckey began studying at Golden West College, Long Beach City College, and California State University, Long Beach, when he was about 15. He dropped out to start Oculus, and he designed the Oculus Rift headset, which was later rebranded as Meta Quest.

In 2016, he was fired from Facebook, now known as Meta, after his political contributions to far-right groups drew controversy from the company. The following year, he founded Anduril Industries, a security and defense technology startup.

Since leaving Meta, Luckey has been critical of its metaverse product, for which Oculus is a key component.

"I don't think it's a good product," he said, adding that it could be "amazing in the future" since Mark Zuckerberg has invested billions in it.

VR is a key focus for Meta as it continues to develop the metaverse. Meta has invested $36 billion in the metaverse and plans to invest more. However, the VR and metaverse sections of the company remain unprofitable.

Luckey's net worth is $1.8 billion, per Forbes. He ranks No. 1,725 on the media company's list of billionaires for 2023. He sold the company that he founded, Oculus VR, to Facebook for $2 billion in cash and stock in 2021, and he's raised billions for his new company Anduril Industries.

In 2017, Luckey founded Anduril Industries, a defense-tech startup. The company strives to make the U.S. military more high-tech. In February 2023, the DOD announced a security assistance package that included Altius-600 UAS, which are Anduril drones, confirming their tech in Ukraine. The company received a $1.5 billion investment in 2022, at an $8 billion valuation, bringing its total funding to $2.3 billion.

VR headset that can kill users

Palmer Luckey's NerveGear headset sitting on a black desk
Palmer Luckey's NerveGear headsetPalmer Luckey

In 2022, Luckey wrote in a blog post that he had modified a VR headset to explode when the wearer loses in a video game, killing the user in real life, too.

In the post, titled "If you die in the game, you die in real life," Luckey said he was inspired to create the deadly gaming device by a fictional VR headset called "NerveGear" featured in an anime television series called Sword Art Online.

"The idea of tying your real life to your virtual avatar has always fascinated me – you instantly raise the stakes to the maximum level and force people to fundamentally rethink how they interact with the virtual world and the players inside it... only the threat of serious consequences can make a game feel real to you and every other person in the game," Luckey wrote.

Luckey said that unlike the fictional version of NerveGear, he could not figure out how to kill the wearer with "powerful microwaves" and instead used explosives for his morbid creation.

Luckey said it's just a piece of office art – for now.

"It is also, as far as I know, the first non-fiction example of a VR device that can actually kill the user. It won't be the last," Luckey wrote.

"See you in the metaverse," he concluded.

"When an appropriate game-over screen is displayed, the charges fire, instantly destroying the brain of the user," Luckey wrote.

Samantha Delouya contributed to an earlier version of this story.

Correction: An earlier version of this story's headline referred to Luckey as the CEO of Anduril. He is the founder of Anduril. This story was updated with information clarifying military uses of Anduril tech.

Read the original article on Business Insider