image: Bryan Steffy/Getty
A lot has changed since the last time I talked to Palmer Luckey, the 23-year-old creator of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
We last spoke over the phone back in 2013 when the Oculus Rift was still a runaway Kickstarter project, back before the team showed Mark Zuckerberg a prototype. Zuckerberg loved it, calling it “one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen,” and Facebook ended up paying $2 billion for Oculus a year later.
That means Luckey is now a multi-millionaire — Forbes pegs his net worth at $700 million — and I point out how surreal that must feel, reaching that level of wealth a few short years after giving up his journalism studies to pursue virtual reality full time.
“This may sound — everyone says this — but it’s not about the money,” says Luckey, who’s wearing a blue polo shirt and fidgeting with a bottle of water. We’re sitting at a round table inside of a small demo room deep within the Oculus booth at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Luckey was studying to become a tech journalist when he decided to pursue his vision.
“I didn’t get into tech journalism for the money, I didn’t get into VR for the money. When I was in tech journalism, I thought I was taking a break from school after Oculus took off. That seemed like the riskier path at the time. Like ‘I’m almost done with my degree in tech journalism, am I really going to give up my career in tech journalism for this wacky VR thing?’ Well that sounded like a lot of fun, so I’m going to go do that.” The journey has…