$700 Million Oculus Rift Founder Funding Trump Meme Campaign

By on September 29, 2016 in ArticlesCelebrity News

Silicon Valley titan and Oculus founder, Palmer Luckey, is financially backing a pro-Trump political organization called Nimble America. Nimble America positions itself as a social welfare 501(c)4 non-profit company. Nimble's mission is to prove that "shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real" according to their introductory statement. It has taken credit for a billboard posted outside of Pittsburgh with a cartoon-sized image of Clinton's face with the words "Too Big to Jail." A representative of the group boasted of their success on Reddit and both social and mainstream media. Their next goal is to get memes in front of people offline. A financial statement available on their accounts showed $9,333 in spending for Facebook ads, billboards, and website operations in late August.

Luckey has used the pseudonym "NimbleRichMan" on Reddit with a login supplied by the organization. He sold his virtual reality company Oculus to Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion. Other potential donors from Reddit's r/The_Donald community turned on the organization this week after refusing to believe he was who he claimed to be, causing a rift in one of Trump's most powerful tools. The r/The_Donald community is the largest Trump community online, and one of the rules is "no dissenters." Nimble America was founded by two moderators of r/The_Donald, which helped to popularize Trump-themed white supremacist and anti-Semitic memes. A questionnaire to become moderator included questions "Is there a difference between white nationalism and white supremacy" and "Was 9/11 an inside job?"

Luckey insists he's just the group's financial backer, and thought the meddlesome idea was funny. He's listed as the vice president on the group's website. He doesn't expect that any campaign will ever run most of the ads. In another post written under his pseudonym, there are echoes of Peter Thiel, who secretly funded the campaign against Gawker. "The American Revolution was funded by wealthy individuals," wrote NimbleRichMan.

GABRIELLE LURIE/AFP/Getty Images

GABRIELLE LURIE/AFP/Getty Images

Before becoming involved in the community, Luckey met with Breitbart tech editor and Trump booster Milo Yiannopoulos, who served as the liaison for the political action group. Yiannopoulos was recently in the news for being suspended from Twitter after sending a series of abusing messages to actress Leslie Jones. Luckey first met him a year and a half ago, before Yiannopoulos began working on a charity to send white men to college. The scholarship fund resulted in zero financial distribution of the donations that had been made directly to Yiannopoulos's bank account.

The organization recently held a fundraising drive on r/The_Donald, stating that all donations would be matched by Luckey within 48 hours. This sparked a heated exchange as users expressed concern about making donations to something that wasn't the official campaign site. When boosters swore that there was a "near-billionaire" backing the effort, Redditors immediately doubted the legitimacy. Even Yiannopoulos's claims were doubted. Now Luckey is coming forward to clear up all doubts, and posted a statement on Facebook admitting to donating $10,000.

According to deputy executive director of The Campaign Legal Center Paul Ryan, Nimble America can exist as a 501(c)(4) as long as it does other things besides supporting Trump. It is permitted to advocate for candidates as long as it is not directly intervening in a candidate's election as the primary activity. It must spend over half of its budget on non-candidate-election work. It's currently not clear whether Nimble America has plans to spend money on such activities. Posts pertaining to the company have been swiftly removed across Reddit over the past few days.

Articles Written by Daniel Lipson
Daniel Lipson loves writing and working at the junction of art and technology. His education includes degrees in Creative Writing & Arts at Carnegie Mellon, and in Mass Communications & Journalism at San Jose State. His main interests are books, movies, television, games, and music that are inspiring and thought-provoking.
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