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The founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey, is leaving Facebook, three years after the social network paid $2bn to acquire the virtual reality pioneer.

The move comes just weeks after Oculus cut the price of its Rift VR headset and Touch controllers by a quarter, in an attempt to boost sales which have so far lagged behind analysts’ forecasts.

It also follows last September’s controversy over Mr Luckey’s $10,000 contribution to an online political activist group called Nimble America, which attacked US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton using internet memes.

The 24-year-old Mr Luckey apologised for “negatively impacting the perception of Oculus and its partners”, saying his donations and support for the campaign group “were my own and do not represent Oculus”. Since then, he has not posted publicly to Facebook or Twitter or been seen at Facebook’s events, including Oculus’ own developer conference last October.

His only public appearance this year has been to testify in court when software company ZeniMax sued Oculus, Facebook and several employees, including Mr Luckey, for stealing its intellectual property.

A jury awarded $500m in damages to ZeniMax last month, finding that Mr Luckey failed to comply with a non-disclosure agreement. Oculus has said it will appeal, while ZeniMax is seeking an injunction following the ruling.

An Oculus spokesperson did not provide any explanation about the circumstances of Mr Luckey’s departure or what he planned to do next. Mr Luckey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Palmer will be dearly missed,” Oculus said. “Palmer’s legacy extends far beyond Oculus. His inventive spirit helped kickstart the modern VR revolution and build an industry. We’re thankful for everything he did for Oculus and VR, and we wish him all the best.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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