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Oculus founder apologizes as devs suspend support

Update: CEO says employees are "free to support the issues...that matter to them", devs within Oculus' Launch Pad diversity initiative disagree

Update: Palmer Luckey's comments have prompted a backlash from the fellows of Oculus VR's Launch Pad programme, an initiative designed to, “ inspire developers that represent our global audience.”

In a blog post published on the Oculus forum in May this year, the company appealed to, "women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and anyone who is willing to share how their perspective adds to the 'diversity of thought' in our community." Oculus VR invited 100 developers to a “boot camp” the same month, gave each one a Gear VR headset, and asked them to work towards scholarships worth between $5,000 and $50,000.

According to a report on Buzzfeed, the recent revelations about Palmer Luckey's support for Donald Trump has been regarded by many of those developers as antithetical to the stated aims of the Launch Pad programme. One California-based fellow, speaking anonymously, described the response as, “surprise, shock, dismay, and disappointment.”

"I'm doing a Day of the Dead project and showing it at Day of the Dead festivals. How can I promote that when the head of Oculus is giving money [to support] Trump?"

Alejandro Quan-Madrid, Launch Pad fellow

With diversity at the core of what Launch Pad was trying to achieve, many of the initiative's developers were working on projects that sit uneasily beside the tenor of Trump's rhetoric. “I'm doing a Day of the Dead project and showing it at Day of the Dead festivals,” said Launch Pad fellow Alejandro Quan-Madrid. “How can I promote that when the head of Oculus is giving money [to support] Trump - and Trump wants people in my community to be deported?”

Oculus will announce the scholarship recipients next month, and it will do so with a new Diversity Lead. Amy Thole, who oversaw Launch Pad, left the role at Oculus VR yesterday to make a, “planned move to Oregon.” Buzzfeed reports that she will be replaced by Ebony Peay, who already works at the company.

Update: Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe has emphasised the freedom that Oculus VR allows its employees to support their personal views, a freedom he said also applied to Palmer Luckey.

In a post on his Facebook page, Iribe spoke about Luckey's regret at the negative impact the situation had created for "the company, our partners, and the industry." However, he offered a measure of support for Oculus VR's founder, citing Luckey's right to independent political beliefs.

"Everyone at Oculus is free to support the issues or causes that matter to them, whether or not we agree with those views," he said. "It is important to remember that Palmer acted independently in a personal capacity, and was in no way representing the company."

Original Story: After numerous publications (GamesIndustry.biz included) no doubt flooded Oculus with requests for comment on Friday, when the story broke that Palmer Luckey allegedly had been funding a pro-Trump "shitposting" group, the man himself took to Facebook (which owns Oculus) to apologize for his actions.

"Everyone at Oculus is free to support the issues or causes that matter to them, whether or not we agree with those views"

Brendan Iribe, CEO, Oculus VR

"I am deeply sorry that my actions are negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners.The recent news stories about me do not accurately represent my views," he wrote. "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. 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 went on to deny that he was the author behind the 'NimbleRichMan' posts on Reddit and the vice president of Nimble America: "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. Still, my actions were my own and do not represent Oculus. I'm sorry for the impact my actions are having on the community."

The original Daily Beast article, however, confirmed that Luckey was indeed the man behind "NimbleRichMan" and author Gideon Resnick reiterated that fact on his Twitter account today.