OC’s Wealthiest 2023: Palmer Luckey



THE MONEY, PART I: Oculus VR, a maker of virtual reality hardware and software products Luckey founded at age 19 in 2012, was bought by Facebook in 2014 for $2.3 billion. It was one of the fastest-ever multibillion-dollar exit transactions on record.

THE MONEY, PART II: Luckey’s second startup, defense-focused Anduril Industries, was formed in 2017 and is the fastest-growing upstart defense firm in the country. Valuation was cited at $8.5 billion at the end of 2022, after Anduril had raised about $1.5 billion in a Series E round, with plans to enter into new technology markets through acquisitions.

THE WEALTH: Reported to not have put much of his own money in building up Anduril because of fierce VC interest. “We’ve never needed to dip into the Palmer pot,” Anduril’s Chief Executive Brian Shimpf told Forbes. Believed to still have a significant stake in Anduril after latest funding deals; the Business Journal’s $3.4 billion estimate of his wealth could prove to be on the low side for the tech visionary, who turned 30 last year.

THE TECHNOLOGY: Anduril makes a combo of hardware and software, including autonomous drones, sentry towers and other products used to monitor and protect large areas, which are built around its artificial intelligence platform that uses computer vision, machine learning and mesh networking. Moved to huge new campus in Costa Mesa to accommodate its growing ranks of workers and business. Just bought Indiana-based rocket engine manufacturer Adranos, to make missiles for the military.

PORTFOLIO: Owns home on Lido Island. Among reported big splurges after the Oculus sale: a 1969 Mustang, several helicopters, submarine and an island property.

NEXT STEPS: “I’ve always wanted to be a publicly traded company” and the Pentagon in general likes to deal with listed companies, but “I don’t think that we’re close to any kind of IPO,” he told CNBC in June.

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