Oculus founder Palmer Luckey donated $100,000 to fund Donald Trump’s inaugural celebrations through shell companies named after elements from classic video game Chrono Trigger, The Washington Post and Mother Jones report. News of the donation broke today, almost a month after Luckey announced he was leaving Facebook, but the money was handed over on January 4th — when he was presumably still under contract with the social media company.
The money was provided by a company called Wings of Time — named after a fantastical machine used in SNES RPG — on January 4th. While Luckey’s name was not recorded in the inauguration committee filings, California records show that Wings of Time is managed by another corporation called Fiendlord’s Keep — another Chrono Trigger reference — of which Luckey is the sole officer. State records also show that Wings of Time is based at a Long Beach address that Luckey has used for other companies, including Luckey Arms LLC.
The donation came four months after Luckey admitted that he had funded a pro-Trump group dedicated to “shitposting” and “meme magic.” Speaking in September, Luckey said he had given $10,000 to the Nimble America association because it had “fresh ideas on how to communicate with young voters through the use of several billboards.” Those billboards were reportedly used to repurpose internet memes to attack Hillary Clinton.
He publicly apologized for the donation, saying that he was “deeply sorry that my actions are negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners.” Luckey insisted at the time that he did not support Trump, and would be voting for a third-party candidate in last year’s presidential election. “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,” he said.
The apology was followed by a period out of the public eye for Luckey. He had been an outspoken and outsized public figure in the years since he founded Oculus, but his sudden disappearance from both social media and Facebook’s own events led some to question whether the company was trying to bury its connections to the man. That silence continued until March this year, when Facebook confirmed that he would be leaving the company, almost three years after it bought the firm he founded for $2 billion. Facebook said that Luckey would be “dearly missed,” and that it “wished him all the best,” but did not say whether the decision was voluntary.
Nobody can stop me from reposting the same Sword Art Online pictures every year for the next 50 years! https://t.co/1iMO6DMbwB
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) April 19, 2017
It’s also not clear whether his social media exile was self-imposed or not, but it should be noted that today’s news coincides with Luckey’s return to Twitter. His first tweet since September could be read as cryptic reference to a potential gag order, indicating that some entity had previously stopped him from posting what he wanted to, or could simply be an expression of interest in an anime series. If you were so inclined, his Obi-Wan Kenobi avatar could also be seen as a statement of intent, to come back stronger after being struck down.
Subsequent replies have been more pointed, questioning the Washington Post’s reporters for not waiting on Luckey’s own comment on the January donation, and defending his earlier Nimble America contributions. In another tweet, Luckey was asked directly why he was funding Trump’s celebrations. “Probably the same reason companies like Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Coca-Cola, etc do,” he replied — that is, for business reasons.