When Palmer Freeman Luckey was just 21, he made an overnight fortune selling his startup, a company called Oculus VR that made virtual-reality gear, to Facebook for $2 billion in 2014.
However, his success story took downturn this year when Luckey, now 24, was pressured to leave Facebook months after news spread that he had secretly donated one of his ideas to an organization dedicated to spreading anti-Hillary Clinton internet memes.
While Luckey slammed false claims made in the media reports and articles, the reports proved toxic in the tech industry. Now Luckey is back. Unburdened by a big company's culture, he's more freely sharing his politics on social media. He also contributed $100,000 to Trump's inauguration, through one of his companies, according to Federal Election Commission records.
And now he has a new startup, a company that is developing surveillance technology that could be deployed on borders between countries and around military bases. It is said that the investment fund is run by Peter Thiel, a technology adviser to Trump, planned to support the effort.
Among his assets is about 85 acres of property in upstate New York, including a luxury home built atop a decommissioned Atlas missile silo.
Luckey also owns several military vehicles and, through various companies, three helicopters, and he received a student pilot's license last year, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. He recently purchased a marina in Orange County, California, where he grew up, according to public records.
As he sees it, according to those familiar with the plan, the technology can be used for many kinds of perimeter security, including military bases and stadium events, where it could be used to detect drones. Software would help the system figure out which objects to ignore, like birds and coyotes. The company, which is based in Southern California and has a warehouse there, is being self-financed by Luckey for now.