In 2014, Facebook bought Oculus VR, the virtual reality headset maker founded by Palmer Luckey, for $2 billion. According to a report from The Daily Beast, Luckey has spent a chunk of his hundreds of millions to fund the creation of anti-Hillary Clinton, pro-Donald Trump memes and advertisements.
Luckey has been quietly backing Nimble America, which describes itself as a pro-Trump “social welfare 501(c)4 non-profit” whose introductory statement claims, “shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real.” Speaking with The Daily Beast, Luckey said he interacted with the group pseudonymously as “NimbleRichMan” on Reddit.
“I’ve got plenty of money. Money is not my issue,” Luckey said of his involvement. “I thought it sounded like a real jolly good time.” The Daily Beast found him listed on Nimble America’s website as its vice president, though this seems to have since been removed.
One of Nimble America’s credited acts was to pay for a billboard in the Pittsburgh area with a caricature of Hillary Clinton captioned “Too big to jail.” One of Nimble America’s founders, Dustin Ward, said the group is purchasing more billboard space near the first presidential debate, which takes placed Monday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.
While Luckey’s NimbleRichMan Reddit account has now been deleted, the user previously posted that he has “supported Donald’s presidential ambitions for years” and has “donated significant funds to Nimble America.”
On Saturday, Nimble America attempted to hold a fundraiser, claiming that Luckey — whom it identified to supporters only as an anonymous “near-billionaire” — would match all donations within 48 hours. Supporters were split over the fundraiser, with some doubting the veracity of a super wealthy donor’s willingness to match donations. Others were upset that their trolling movement was being monetized. For his part, Luckey doesn’t think Nimble America is looking to take the money and run.
“I’m not going to keep throwing money after something if I don’t see any results,” he said after conceding that the fundraising push wasn’t a good idea. “I think these guys are pretty legit. The sums of money are so small, I don’t think they’re out to scam anybody. If they disappear with the money, I wouldn’t throw any more money at them.”
Facebook has yet to weigh in on Luckey’s involvement with Nimble America. Polygon was able to reach an Oculus representative over Luckey’s involvement, but the rep claimed that to be the “First I have heard of it.”