The startup entrepreneur leveraged Facebook to become rich, but the war made him a billionaire

The young entrepreneur sold his startup to Facebook for a whopping $2 billion in 2014, but got fired from the company in 2016. Later he formed a new drone startup and grabbed a multi-billion dollar contract from the U.S. Special Operations Command amidst the Ukraine-Russia war.

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It’s rare to see a young kid, who never got a chance to go to any popular school or college, achieving extraordinary due to his passion and commitment to reinvent something new.

Palmer Luckey is a tech entrepreneur who developed and sold Oculus VR to Facebook for $2 billion in 2014. However, later in 2016, he was alleged to support Trump in the elections politically and got fired from Facebook (now known as Meta).  

In 2017, Luckey invested his acquired fund into a defence tech start-up, Anduril Industries. No one noticed it until the big numbers came in. But the 29-year-old hasn’t built a billion-dollar start-up in the speck of time; he invested his efforts, developed cutting-edge technology and was able to attract multiple rounds of funding when quite everyone was against him. 

Luckey’s estimated net worth is around $1.4 billion, he owns at least 11% of his start-up and with a plan to raise at least $500 million or $1 billion in a Series E round, the entrepreneur’s newly founded company can reach up to $8 billion, reported The information

He achieved this massive success because the US government believed in his all-new AI program, Lattice. The technology is another breakthrough for the US military and came at the crucial time of the Russia-Ukraine war. It surely advantaged Luckey’s vision. 

Lattice includes the most advanced tech software that helps in drone versus drone combat. It has a ground unit packed with sensors that quickly identify a moving on-ground object and trigger a camera to focus and track it. Then Lattice, the core software, highlights the moving object and determines the vehicle type (truck, car, tank, etc.).

The system also comes with a ghost drone that helps to easily track the vehicle if it hides beside a wall or hill. If someone from the car launches a drone, then the software will quickly identify the type of drone and will mark it as suspicious. 

Lastly, to neutralise the drone, Lattice pop opens a metal box that immediately launches a burly quadcopter called Anvil. Its job is to find the highlighted drone and crash into it. The software can identify multiple suspicious drones at once and eliminate them without human intervention. 

Anduril Industries has already tested the system, and it works as expected. That’s why it’s worth the hype. 

Luckey created Oculus when he was just 16! 

The self-taught entrepreneur was also home-schooled by his mother in Long Beach, California. Luckey received his first engineering lessons from his dad and took half his garage to develop advanced gadgets like laser-powered coil guns. 

As a teenager, Luckey found himself interested in gadgets that soon transformed into games and then into virtual reality. He noticed that VRs had seen little to no improvements since 1960. So, he invested his time in replacing old, bulky, outdated hardware with light, modern, cheap ones. The overall cost came down, and the new VR can even fit your mobile inside it. Oculus was born! 

The simple and cost-effective design attracted the attention of Zuckerberg, and they ended up closing a $2 billion deal.

Luckey was always interested in innovation, not money, so he kept working on various projects while working with Facebook. He tried to develop a ramjet engine in his swimming pool but failed, tried to make rocket boots, was always interested in SpaceX but did nothing for himself until Facebook dumped him. 

Forward to 2017, when Luckey partnered with some of his friends to fund his new defence start-up, Anduril. The first project of the newly formed company was to build sentry towers to automatically detect people and vehicles illegally crossing the border with a motive to free many routine patrol units.

It worked, and they got a contract worth $250 million in February 2020; they successfully deployed 176 towers on the Mexican border. 

In January, Anduril secured a contract from U.S Special Operations Command’s drone defences that might be worth around $1 billion in ten years. Even Pentagon is interested in creating a unified view of the battlefield that would require the drones and technology developed by Luckey’s start-up. 

With fantastic tech and billions of dollars gathered in multiple funding rounds, the newly formed company is already making headlines and delivering the hope of improved defence for the US. Let’s see where it reaches. 

The Bottom Line 

Luckey has been interested in tech since childhood. That’s why he was able to develop the base of the Metaverse, a VR headset. He leveraged Facebook to become rich but getting fired never negatively affected him. Instead, he came up with innovative ideas and founded Anduril.

His company has already achieved remarkable milestones; With a possible Series E funding of $500 million, he is betting on successfully deploying the most required AI-powered defence tech.

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