Oculus is making a significant financial pledge to bring new and diverse talent into virtual reality development. This comes after Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey found himself in hot water when it was reported he was funding pro-Trump internet trolls.
On stage at Oculus Connect in San Jose yesterday, Ebony Peay Ramirez, Oculus’ head of diversity said: “Virtual reality will only succeed if it represents a diverse ecosystem that speaks to different people and opinions. We want to see a wide variety of richer voices. We know that a platform that’s built with diverse thought, personalities, perspectives and imaginations is a much more engaging and dynamic one.”
“There’s so much more that we can and will do,” Peay Ramirez said. “So I’m excited and enthusiastic to announce that Oculus is committing $10 million dollars to diverse programs for VR. We’re going to increase funding for Oculus Launch Pad, VR for Good and create entirely new programs like the Diverse Filmmakers Project.”
In April this year Oculus announced Oculus Launchpad, a bootcamp held in the office of Facebook, Oculus VR’s parent company. It aimed to help develop the talent of up to 100 professionals in the field with hands-on experience of VR development. By pledging to increase funding we could see another run of these courses, or further work with the feedback and mentorship to developers that Oculus handed out through the Oculus Forum this summer.
Ramirez didn’t mention Palmer Luckey or recent events while on stage, but these are positive steps for the company after a recent run of bad press. Luckey himself was absent from the presentation stage, and indeed, the entire event. Nate Mitchell, Luckey’s cofounder and Oculus’ VP of product, confirmed to Polygon that Luckey himself decided to miss the event "because he didn’t want to be a distraction."