While some people are currently sad apes some billionaires like Palmer Luckey are seriously thriving!
Luckey grew up in Long Beach, California, where he was home-schooled by his mother and spent time working on cars with his father.
After upgrading old video game consoles to make them mobile, he started collecting bulky VR headsets and tinkering with them.
According to Palmer
Selling Oculus to Facebook was “the best thing that ever happened to the VR industry even if it wasn’t super great for me.”
Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus and former Facebook employee, admitted that he was fired from the social networking giant a few years ago, saying it was for “no reason at all.”
“I gave $10,000 to a pro-Trump group, and I think that’s something to do with it,” quipped Luckey in an interview with CNBC’s Deirdre Bosa from the Collision tech conference in Toronto. Luckey added that California, where Facebook is headquartered, is an at-will state. Luckey said he identifies politically as a libertarian. Much of Silicon Valley would be considered liberal.
Luckey, who sold his Oculus virtual reality headset company to Facebook for $2 billion in 2014, left there in March 2017 amid controversy surrounding his political contributions and financial support of far-right groups and internet trolls. Since then, he’s founded Anduril Industries, a defense technology start-up that’s focusing on national security and artificial intelligence.
Facebook has been struggling to gain back user trust and navigate calls for new online privacy regulations from Washington following a series of missteps in recent years, including the 2018 Cambridge Analytica data scandal and evidence the platform was exploited by Russia-based operatives trying to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Luckey said Facebook’s problems would not necessarily go away by breaking up the tech giant or with a possible departure of co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg. “These companies are so huge, it’s easy to pin it all on one person,” he added. “When you’re on the inside, you realize that replacing one person isn’t going to change the way things work.”
Despite the tech downturn And shun from Facebook, Palmer is still flexing and living it up!
In a year where venture funding has slowed, defense and security firm Anduril helped close it with a big bang — and raise.
The Costa Mesa, California-based startup locked up a Series E worth nearly $1.5 billion that values the company at $8.5 billion. That nearly doubles the company’s previous valuation in June 2021.
The funding round was led by Valor Equity Partners, with participation from Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, 8VC , Lux Capital, Thrive Capital, DFJ Growth, Elad Gil, Lachy Groom, Human Capital, Marlinspike, WCM Investment Management, MVP Ventures, Lightspeed Venture and US Innovative Technology Fund.
The funding round was rumored late this spring.
The round is one of the largest this year by a U.S. company. In April, Tencent-backed Epic Games raised $2 billion from Sony and Kirkbi. Then in June, Elon Musk’s space company, SpaceX, raised nearly $1.7 billion in June.
Anduril was founded in 2017 by Palmer Luckey, most famous for selling virtual reality company Oculus to Meta — then called Facebook — for $2 billion.
His newest venture promises to be even bigger.
Anduril builds software and hardware enhanced with artificial intelligence and machine learning for their military and defense industry. It works with the U.S. and its allies to create drones, underwater vehicles and different operating and control systems.
“Anduril is a technology partner, not an equipment provider,” said co-founder and CEO Brian Schimpf in a blog post. “Security threats are evolving faster than the DOD can keep pace. In order to really outmaneuver emerging threats we need to move past just efficiencies and create clear step changes in capability, quickly.”
Doing something different
Luckey has said he started Anduril because many big tech firms were turning their backs on doing business with the U.S. Department of Defense, hurting the U.S. military’s ability to modernize as U.S. defense needs change.
However, the military and defense sectors can be hard to navigate for startups. Just getting started in the sectors can be extremely difficult and long sales cycles can crush a startup’s cash flow.
“Anduril has proven that our model — recruiting talented engineers, building quickly and efficiently using venture dollars, and selling next-generation technology off the shelf to the government — works,” Schimpf said. “And that with the right technology and incentives the government can be a nimble customer.”
The company certainly has seen significant growth. Just earlier this year, the company closed a 10-year, $967 million contract with the U.S. Special Operations Command. In the last 12 months the company has grown its employee count from 700 at the start of 2022 to more than 1,100 employees.
All of that is not to say the company has not had its critics. It has been criticized for possibly enabling the enforcement of border security policies and government surveillance.
Anduril plans to use the new cash infusion to accelerate its research and development and bring new products to market.
The company has now raised more than $2 billion, per Crunchbase data.