There is no doubt that there’s some animosity and frustration towards Oculus founder Palmer Luckey following the obviously unpopular delays in Rift pre-order shipments. While ultimately the delays are unlikely to have any major impact on the company’s long term prospects, the whole fiasco has to be frustrating for Lucky and both the Oculus and Facebook teams. While Luckey has done an excellent job at Kickstarting Oculus, prior to selling the company for $2 billion in 2014 to Facebook, some of his actions may be a bit too unpolished, especially now that he’s working for a $300 billion+ corporation in Facebook. Take for example his Tweet late yesterday afternoon regarding the current delays.
“I prefer production that can keep up with demand, but much prefer shortages to the opposite problem! No burying Rifts in desert landfills,” Luckey Tweeted.
On the surface there is nothing wrong with his comment. He’s simply being honest. He’d rather have demand exceed supply rather than supply exceed demand, Basically he’s saying the product is a success, therefore delays are to be expected. The problem lies in the fact that he may have been seen as making light of the situation, when thousands of people are still waiting for their Rift headsets. As you would likely have imagined, there has been some fallout from this tweet, especially on Reddit where one particular user expressed anger towards Luckey’s double-talk, posting a list of things that Luckey has seemingly gone back on his word on. This list included the following:
- Remember when you said you were going to scale up production to meet demand?
- Remember how you said “Retail is a fine option… but by pre-ordering you reserve your place in line”?
- Remember how “kinda shitty” Xbox controllers are for VR?
- Remember how “If it (Rift CV1) doesn’t come out by the end of next year (2015), then something’s gone wrong.”?
- Remember when the Rift CV1 was in the “$350 Ballpark”?
- Remember “if something’s even $600, it doesn’t matter how good it is, how great of an experience it is — if they just can’t afford it, then it really might as well not exist.”?
- Remember when you used to “have confidence in your product” because you wouldn’t lock down reviews months before launch?
Lucky then replied with a rather lengthy response, which led to mixed reactions among Oculus Reddit posters:
“Half of this stuff is you acting like I lied about things when I did not (we did scale up production, for example, and the Rift uses hybrid optics, not pure fresnels), and the rest is just things changing over time.
Does shit change sometimes? Of course it does. Does that mean I am going to stop speaking my mind because people throw out of context words in my face years later? No, not really. The same people who complain about “lack of transparency” and “sterile, corporate communication” are so very often the same people who berate and hate companies and individuals for anything they ever say that changes at some point.
That is why the majority of companies tell you nothing and keep you in the dark on everything unless it is perfectly constructed to keep secrets secret, offend nobody, and align with every corporate message that has ever been given. They know a vocal minority of people is going to latch on to anything they say or have said and use it to shit on them, and they let it control them.
In 4 more years, people are going to be doing the same thing. ‘But Palmer, remember the time you said the Rift was seated only?! Remember when you said mobile would never equal the power of PC? Or how about the time you said eye tracking was not feasible and totally stupid? Huehuehue, what a liar, gotcha!’ Twist: I don’t care, because I would rather say what I think than make sure every word I say stands for all of eternity engraved on a pillar of stone, absolute, unchanging, and rustling the jimmies of no man.”
This seems to be a case where Lucky has thrown political correctness out of the window, likely to the chagrin of Facebook’s corporate officers. It’s probably not in the best interest of the company to begin arguing with customers via a public forum like Reddit, but Luckey isn’t just any ordinary founder/company executive. While his Tweet certainly can’t be argued with, it’s understandable that it got under some individual’s skin. It’s tough to avoid pleasing everyone, especially when there’s reason to be angry at the company, but in the end Luckey more than likely will come out of all of this with his following and respect intact.
What are your thoughts on Luckey’s comments? Let us know in the Palmer Luckey Tweet forum on VRTalk.com.