Oculus VR co-founder Palmer Luckey was fired from Facebook. On March 25, 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus VR for approximately $2 billion. Six months after contributing $10,000 to an anti-Hillary Clinton group, Luckey was let go. He is now claiming it was because of his support for Donald Trump in the presidential election.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg denies this assertion, yet emails show how he tried to convince Luckey to support the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, rather than Trump. Johnson was viewed as a better choice for the public image of the company.
Luckey claimed this was the political reason for his being let go and hired a labor attorney to negotiate the issue. The result was an estimated $100 million payout, an acceleration of stock and bonus rewards.
Some claim the reasons for letting Luckey go included:
- He was a problematic public relations issue, from his Reddit political posts to the anti-Hillary contribution
- He drove a tan Humvee with machine-gun mounts and orange toy guns
- Oculus lost an intellectual property theft case against game maker ZeniMax, requiring Facebook to pay $500 million. Facebook is appealing, but it raises questions about Luckey’s honesty during the sale of Oculus VR to Facebook
- Silicon Valley is facing criticism of being too left-leaning, with critics pointing to how tech employees at Google, Facebook, and Twitter contributed significantly more to the Clinton versus the Trump campaign.
- A Stanford University study of technologists found that they are “overwhelmingly in favor of economic policies that redistribute wealth, including higher taxes on rich people and lots of social services for the poor, including universal health care”
- Some Republicans are present in Silicon Valley.In 2013, Lincoln Labs was formed to connect the right-of-center outsiders in Silicon Valley, serving as an alternative to the liberal echo chamber
Quests and Actions (Q&A):
- How can technology companies embrace the political spectrum more completely?
- Should tech executives stay quiet on their political leanings and avoid contributing any money to political candidates?
- Are we in a time where one political party is out-of-step to such a degree that it limits political diversity in tech companies?