Palmer Luckey, the 24-year-old who was pressured out of Facebook after The Daily Beast revealed he quietly funded a pro-Trump political group that intended to prove “shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real,” now looks to be angling to cash in on the connections he’s forged with the Trump administration.
Luckey, who donated $100,000 to Trump’s inauguration, has a new company working on a virtual border wall that could monitor people crossing into the U.S. using cameras mounted on telephone poles. The company will use “technology found in self-driving cars called lidar — shorthand for light detection and ranging — as well as infrared sensors and cameras to monitor borders for illegal crossings,” according to The New York Times.
Luckey is also pairing up with Trump surrogate Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire and Facebook board member who stumped for Trump at the Republican National Convention. Thiel, who feels that “no corruption can be a bad thing” and is interested in the possibility of extending his life with blood transfusions from the young and healthy, reportedly plans to invest in Luckey’s new company through his venture capital firm Founders’ Fund.
Border protection is handled by the Department of Homeland Security, which means Luckey’s new startup will have to navigate the government’s byzantine system for contractors if it wants the federal government as a customer. However, Luckey already has inroads at the White House. He has reportedly met with top Trump aide Steve Bannon and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Thiel is also an investor in and co-founder of Palantir, a data analytics company that has done work for the National Security Agency and recently won an important legal battle against the U.S. Army for a right to place a bid to help create a multi-billion dollar project for the U.S. military.
Luckey confirmed his new company in a statement to the Times. “We are spending more than ever on defense technology, yet the pace of innovation has been slowing for decades,” Luckey told the Times. “We need a new kind of defense company, one that will save taxpayer dollars while creating superior technology to keep our troops and citizens safer.” The company is headquartered in a warehouse in Southern California and has already hired multiple people, according to the Times report. The name of the company has not been published but it’s probably a reference to Luckey’s favorite video game Chrono Trigger.
Luckey, who was once one of virtual reality’s most prominent evangelists, went dark for months after his pro-Trump political group was revealed. He was nowhere to be seen at the Oculus Developers Conference where he typically gave a keynote speech, and his usually active Twitter feed went silent. Since leaving Facebook in March, Luckey has returned to Twitter, sharing pictures of himself in cosplay, political missives like “marriage is a right, not a privilege,” and his critiques of the media.