The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Sunday that Facebook dismissed Oculus VR co-founder, Palmer Luckey last year on the grounds that he donated $10,000 to an anti-Hillary Clinton faction during the 2016 US presidential elections.
While Luckey never revealed his reasons behind leaving, his donation had triggered a backlash of criticism from his colleagues. Six months later, he was no longer a part of Facebook, the social media machinery that had acquired Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion. In October, Luckey spoke to CNBC about his exit and said, "I can't talk about it too much, but I'll say that it wasn't my choice to leave."
According to the WSJ, Luckey’s Trump affiliation not only upset many at Facebook but also several in Silicon Valley. The report stated, "Luckey's ouster from Facebook was a harbinger of battles that have broken out over the past year over the overwhelmingly liberal culture of Silicon Valley, which has given the tech industry public-relations headaches and brought unwanted attention from Washington,"
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, while testifying on data privacy earlier this year, denied that Luckey's parting was in any way political.
Ouartz cited a Facebook statement in reaction to the WSJ report,"We always made it clear that any mention of politics was up to Palmer, and we did not pressure him to say something that was not factual or true".
Luckey’s departure has not been a stand-alone exit for Facebook this year as several key executives have made their way out of the social networking giant. Oculus co-founder, Brendan Iribe, also announced his exit in October. "So much has happened since the day we founded Oculus in July 2012. I never could have imagined how much we would accomplish and how far we would come. And now, after six incredible years, I am moving on," Iribe wrote in his Facebook post.
Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger quit the company in September while efforts to monetize the mobile messaging app, led to WhatsApp co-founders, Brian Acton and Jan Koum leaving as well.
This year, with the era of efflux of executives coupled with testifying to the Congress, it has been an eventful year for Facebook. With co-founders of major acquisitions having left, the company now has to undergo some rather important rearrangement of personnel.
While an organization may have the right to ensure that its employees adhere to a set culture at work, one might ponder over how much control can be exercised on employees’ views be it political or otherwise.
Image source: Firstpot