Oculus’ Palmer Luckey Argues With Reddit Users Following Controversial Tweet

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a1There 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:

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.

  • Jeff Messer

    You know what, I think part of this is a side effect of Palmer growing up in the social networking era. You say things, and they’re out there – forever-ish. I think “kids today” (I feel crazy old saying that, but…yeah) are used to knowing that things they say may come back at them, and I hope he’s not an outlier. I’d rather have him (and others) say what they think even if conditions change. We have all of these ways to communicate and most companies instead try even harder to control the message.

  • Flashcat

    I respect his passion for what he does. It’s not easy to make everyone happy, but they are doing a great job, overall.

  • Brian Penny

    A lot of the backlash against Luckey is more due to how he changed since getting Facebook money. When he was on KickStartr and needed help, he was somewhat humble and willing to work with developers and bloggers.

    Once he got Facebook money and the media push that came with it, reports started popping up everywhere about developers being left hanging while lines became impossibly long at trade shows, etc.

    It’s easy to say that’s just a side effect of growing, but it appears Oculus grew too big too fast. For example, I never have issues speaking to Samsung, Sony, HP, Intel, and other large corporations at trade shows like CES and E3 – only Oculus.

    The fact is, although Oculus got the most initial press, HTC Vive is a better system, OSVR is friendlier to developers, and PSVR will benefit from being attached to a true game console. Having tried about a dozen different VR systems, the Rift is honestly overrated.