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Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey to leave Facebook tomorrow

Anita Balakrishnan
Ramin Talaie | Corbis | Getty Images. Palmer Luckey's departure Thursday from Facebook and Oculus, the virtual reality company he co-founded in 2012, was sudden, but not entirely unexpected.

Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey will leave Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) on Friday, a spokesperson confirmed on Thursday.

"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," an Oculus spokesperson told CNBC.

Oculus is a start-up that Facebook acquired in 2014 to further its virtual reality ambitions, shelling out nearly $3 billion in a rush deal to "give people more tools to share their experience."

Luckey, an off-beat engineer known for casual garb like Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, has largely stayed out of the spotlight after a lawsuit thrust Oculus into the public eye. A jury ordered Facebook to pay $500 million in damages after a company sued Oculus, claiming Luckey "commercially exploited" computer code and trade secrets.

Luckey was no stranger to controversy: Luckey told the Daily Beast last year he was putting money behind an internet group that campaigned against Hillary Clinton.

Oculus' ambitions have also become a sore spot with some on Wall Street, who have questioned whether the virtual reality technology can beat rivals to market.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said there are parts of the company that are on "a good trajectory" and parts that are "a little behind." The company recently brought in former Xiaomi executive Hugo Barra as vice president at virtual reality, after Luckey's fellow co-founder Brendan Iribe moved to a role in engineering and product development.

"I would ask for the patience of the investor community in doing that, because we're going to invest a lot in this and it's not going to return or be really profitable for us for quite a while," Zuckerberg said in a recent earnings conference call.



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