Herr Bischoff

Palmer Luckey and the Broken Promise

In not exactly shocking news (and right on character for them), Facebook informed Oculus VR headset owners about the hard requirement of a Facebook account to use any future devices and current ones starting in 2023.

This, despite the fact that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey promised upon aquisition of the company by Facebook, that it will not require a Facebook account to use. He recently took to Reddit to comment on the situation:

I am already getting heat from users and media outlets who say this policy change proves I was lying when I consistently said this wouldn’t happen, or at least that it was a guarantee I wasn’t in a position to make. I want to make clear that those promises were approved by Facebook in that moment and on an ongoing basis, and I really believed it would continue to be the case for a variety of reasons.

What irritates me about those switcheroos is not that they happen at all. Quite the contrary, in case of Facebook I fully expected this to happen at some time. What irritates me is the naivete. Is it the arrogance of youth? The heady decoupling from the real world, being a wunderkind in Silicon Valley? Maybe an incident from a couple of years back can throw some light on the situation.

In 2016, at age 23, he had a brilliant idea:

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey posted a statement on his Facebook page late Friday night admitting to donating $10,000 to pro-Trump “shitposting” organization Nimble America, after a Daily Beast article revealed his involvement in the group on Thursday.

This is something only stupid teenagers with way too much money to burn do. The US appears to have an unusually high concentration of young but severely inexperienced tech millionaires who live in a weird bubble between tech positivism and 4chan. Luckey is at least correct in realizing:

In hindsight, the downvotes from people with more real-world experience than me were definitely justified.

Hindsight is 20/20 but then again, back in 2017 when he was fired by Facebook, he quickly founded a new military technology startup called Anduril. They apparently want to gamify war and add virtual and augmented reality to the battlefield, painting themselves as patriotic coders.

By the way, if that name sounds vaguely familiar to you:

Andúril, also called the Flame of the West, was the sword which was reforged from the shards of Narsil. (After the War of the Last Alliance, the shards of Narsil had been taken to Rivendell.)

It was the sword of Aragorn II Elessar, heir of Isildur.

Yes, he absolutely did. If the whole shtick about Trump and shitposting and patriotism and national defence hasn’t clued you in up until now, naming your defence contractor after an Elven king in Lord of the Rings should be a telltale sign of being full of oneself.

Sounds like a really swell guy with impeccable taste.