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Monday, Feb 6, 2023
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OCBJ INSIDER

Summer Reading

If heading the fastest-growing defense contractor in the U.S. doesn’t work out, Anduril Industries’ Palmer Luckey can always fall back on writing, as judged from the positive feedback we’ve gotten for the July 4 Leader Board penned for the Business Journal by Luckey, a one-time journalism student at California State University, Long Beach.

Luckey’s article noted that while at Anduril, “I’ve hired over 1,200 people to reboot the arsenals of the world’s democracies. We’ve brought Silicon Valley’s attention back to national defense.”

His back-page article was curse-free, unlike the (slightly edited) book excerpts from Bill Gross’ autobiography, I’m Still Standing, which runs in this week’s Leader Board on page 117.

Luckey left the sailor talk for a July 13 event at Aspen’s Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference, where he confirmed his company’s role in providing technology to the Ukraine in its defense efforts.

“We have hardware, software and people in Ukraine,” he said during the event.

He also noted during the forum a change of tone, stating that the Russian war in Ukraine has been a game changer, leading to more favorable views of the military—and of his company’s work, which initially was known for its U.S.-Mexico border surveillance systems.

“People were shi**ing on me for like five years,” said Luckey, whose now Costa Mesa-based company launched in 2017. “And then all of a sudden, Ukraine got invaded. People who had been shi**ing on me are like ‘Palmer, you are such an incredible mind on defense. Please come speak.’”

 

For more on Anduril’s out-of-this world growth, see our front page.

 

Luckey acknowledges the fortune he gained from selling Oculus to Facebook gave him a big advantage when taking on large military contractors via Anduril. That can’t be the way going forward, in order to revamp the military’s technology, he told his audience in Colorado.

“What we need to do is change our system, so that people who aren’t already billionaires can do it—the Palmer Luckey that’s 19 years old [and] living in a camper trailer,” Luckey said.
“That’s the guy that I want to have access to the U.S. government.”

 

Gross tells the Business Journal his portfolio is up some 5% year-over-year; see the Bond King’s entry in our OC’s Wealthiest listing on page 56.

His advice for other investors: “Don’t hold bonds, stocks or commodities going forward until the extent of the recession becomes more visible.”

 

Location is everything, and OC’s role as a luxe auto hub is why Bugatti—with super-charged vehicles running multiple millions of dollars—has set up shop in Irvine, as part of the Newport Beach Automotive Group; see Kaitlin Aquino’s story on this page for more.

The most prominent OC exec/Bugatti collector is likely Tilly’s founder and Executive Chairman Hezy Shaked, whose collection includes several unique offerings from the French carmaker.

The new Bugatti showroom, in the Irvine Auto Center, is less than half a mile from Tilly’s headquarters in the Spectrum. Location’s everything.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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