Oculus founder Palmer Luckey has released a statement disputing the nature of his involvement with a nominally pro-Trump non-profit group dedicated to creating and spreading viral content disparaging Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. This follows a report on Thursday evening by the Daily Beast, which revealed the near-billionaire had been funding the 501(c)4 organization, Nimble America, and acting as its vice president.
"I am deeply sorry that my actions are negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners," Luckey wrote on his personal Facebook page, in a status update that is publicly viewable. "The recent news stories about me do not accurately represent my views.
"Here’s more background: I contributed $10,000 to Nimble America because I thought the organization had fresh ideas on how to communicate with young voters through the use of several billboards," he continued.
A notable recent billboard posted by Nimble America, whose front page criticizes "rapist" migrants and advocates for Donald Trump's political stances on trade, immigration and other issues, features a cartoon image of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton alongside the phrase "too big to jail."
"I did not write the 'NimbleRichMan posts, nor did I delete the account"
Alongside his financial investment in the group, the Daily Beast also reported that Luckey posted on Nimble America’s behalf in Trump-related Reddit forums. The publication said yesterday that Luckey had confirmed that he was behind the now-deleted "NimbleRichMan" handle, a particularly vocal member of the Nimble America Reddit community who spoke of his appreciation for Donald Trump, conservative "shitposting" and other political ideals.
The Daily Beast reported that Luckey had confirmed he had authored the posts, saying, "I’ve got plenty of money. Money is not my issue. I thought it sounded like a real jolly good time."
Luckey denied that he supports Trump in his Friday evening Facebook post, also denying that he is behind the "NimbleRichMan" account cited in the Daily Beast's story.
"I am a libertarian who has publicly supported Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in the past, and I plan on voting for Gary in this election as well," Luckey wrote.
"I am committed to the principles of fair play and equal treatment. I did not write the ‘NimbleRichMan’ posts, nor did I delete the account. Reports that I am a founder or employee of Nimble America are false. I don’t have any plans to donate beyond what I have already given to Nimble America."
Resnick quickly responded to Luckey's denials on Twitter, however, posting screenshots that purported to show the Daily Beast editor's correspondence with Luckey. These screens appear to show Luckey admitting to posting on Reddit under the "NimbleRichMan" handle, which he claims was an account set up for him on the site.
Here is where I sought that clarification from him and what he said. pic.twitter.com/pPfLKUX5Cg
— Gideon Resnick (@GideonResnick) September 24, 2016
"As you can see here, [Palmer Luckey] clearly indicates that he made those posts under that name which he claims the founders of the group made," Resnick wrote in a follow-up tweet.
After the report’s publication last night, developers of games for the Oculus Rift headset decried Luckey and pulled support of the virtual reality hardware. One title, upcoming VR puzzle game SuperHyperCube will no longer launch on the Rift this fall as a result of the Daily Beast's report, developer Kokoromi said this afternoon.
Other studios who have worked with Oculus similarly expressed disappointment. Edge of Nowhere developer Insomniac Games told Polygon earlier today that it "condemns all forms of hate speech. While everyone has a right to express his or her political opinion, the behavior and sentiments reported do not reflect the values of our company. We are also confident that this behavior and sentiment does not reflect the values of the many Oculus employees we work with on a daily basis."
When contacted for comment, Oculus pointed to Luckey’s Facebook post as the company’s statement.
"Still, my actions were my own and do not represent Oculus," Luckey concluded. "I'm sorry for the impact my actions are having on the community."