On a Friday afternoon in late July, a crowd of techies, military types and a few civilians deployed to the new Irvine headquarters of Anduril Industries, a defense tech start-up, to sip hibiscus margaritas and admire the sensor towers and carbon-fiber drones on display. Dave Brubeck tinkled over the sound system, and the dress code skewed office casual and pastel, offset by the bright red pop of a lone “Make America Great Again” hat by the taco bar.
After an hour of socializing amid surveillance equipment, Palmer Luckey, the company’s 26-year-old near-billionaire founder, mounted a stage for the ribbon-cutting. Luckey had wanted to use the company’s namesake sword — a legendary weapon in “The Lord of the Rings” wielded by the hero Aragorn — for the ceremony. A replica of the movie prop hangs on the wall in the office, dramatically underlit with a purple bulb. But Luckey had just gotten back from his honeymoon and hadn’t had time to sharpen it.
Armed instead with large scissors, and wearing his trademark uniform of Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops, he dropped some Tolkien on the audience. more