Did Facebook pay out over a hundred million bucks just to be rid of a Trump-supporter?
It certainly looks like the prejudice against Republicans, conservatives, and especially Trump supporters, is so virulent that Facebook was willing to pay a hundred mill to rid itself od one. The company denies this is the case, but the Wall Street Journal is not convinced.
Facebook Inc. executive and virtual-reality wunderkind Palmer Luckey was a rising star of Silicon Valley when, at the height of the 2016 presidential contest, he donated $10,000 to an anti-Hillary Clinton group.
His donation sparked a backlash from his colleagues. Six months later, he was out. Neither Facebook nor Mr. Luckey has ever said why he left the social-media giant. When testifying before Congress about data privacy earlier this year, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg denied the departure had anything to do with politics.
Zuckerberg was under oath, so I assume he has documentation of other issues that can be cited.
A Facebook spokeswoman said in an email: “We can say unequivocally that Palmer’s departure was not due to his political views. We’re grateful for Palmer’s contributions to Oculus, and we’re glad he continues to actively support the VR industry.”
Some people at Facebook say it is too simplistic to say Mr. Luckey was fired over his politics, and that his lack of candor during the episode involving the donation and his diminished role in Oculus operations were larger factors.
Luckey says otherwise:
Mr. Luckey, it turns out, was put on leave, then fired, according to people familiar with the matter. More recently, he has told people the reason was his support for Donald Trump and the furor that his political beliefs sparked within Facebook and Silicon Valley, some of those people say.
Internal Facebook emails suggest the matter was discussed at the highest levels of the company. In the fall of 2016, as unhappiness over the donation simmered, Facebook executives including Mr. Zuckerberg pressured Mr. Luckey to publicly voice support for libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, despite Mr. Luckey’s years long support of Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the conversations and internal emails viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Facebook reportedly has paid out a fortune to him:
Mr. Luckey and his lawyer negotiated a payout of at least $100 million, representing an acceleration of stock awards and bonuses he would have received through July 2019, plus cash, according to the people familiar with the matter. The stock awards and bonuses were a result of selling his virtual-reality company, Oculus VR, to Facebook in 2014 for more than $2 billion, a deal that netted him a total of about $600 million.
Given the sorts of subpoenas an aggressive defense lawyer could issue, he may have risked putting his entire life on display in court by pressing the matter in court.
At the root of his departure seems to be the outing of his donation by Buzzfeed, and a subsequent campaign that ginned up bigotry among people who worked or might work for Oculus:
Mr. Luckey’s fallout with Facebook began in September 2016, when the Daily Beast revealed his $10,000 donation to NimbleAmerica, a pro-Trump group that paid for advertising mocking Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 election. At least one billboard paid for by the group featured a picture of Mrs. Clinton and the phrase “Too Big to Jail.”
In one post on a Reddit chain dedicated to supporting Mr. Trump, the author, called “NimbleRichMan,” said he was donating to the group so it could spread unflattering memes about Mrs. Clinton. In the same post, the author professed to support Mr. Trump’s campaign, saying “Hillary Clinton is corrupt, a warmonger, a freedom-stripper. Not the good kind you see dancing in bikinis on Independence day, the bad kind that strips freedom from citizens and grants it to donors.” The Daily Beast wrote that Mr. Luckey had said he used the pseudonym NimbleRichMan.
Mr. Luckey’s donation and the perception that he might be associated with a group that at times traded in misogynistic and white-supremacist messages, as some news stories reported, ignited a firestorm. Facebook employees expressed anger about Mr. Luckey on internal message boards and at a weekly town hall meeting in late September 2016, questioning why he was still employed, according to people familiar with the complaints.
“Multiple women have literally teared up in front of me in the last few days,” an engineering director, Srinivas Narayanan, wrote in one internal post following the meeting. Mr. Narayanan didn’t respond to requests for comment.
If fear of a boycott by talent who are politically bigoted is at the root of the departure, then Facebook has caved to bigotry. Because they can afford top quality legal talent, I am sure they have other causes they can point to and document. California law protects political beliefs from employment discrimination, almost certainly passed in order to protect leftists. But in the current era of leftist monoculture dominating high tech, it is conservatives that can take advantage.
Catering to a bigoted labor force is no excuse for discrimination. I am old enough to remember when prestigious employers who refused to hire blacks, or Jews, or Asians for jobs because their clientele would not accept them were correctly labeled is discriminatory. These days, it is conservatives who bear the brunt of institutional bigotry.