Hugo Barra joins Facebook, will lead Oculus as VP of virtual reality


Hugo Barra recently announced his exit from Xiaomi and noted that he intended to move back to Silicon Valley to be closer to his family and also work there. Hugo's job hunt though seems to be already over in three days! (Or was more likely over even before he exited Xiaomi.)

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, made the announcement first on Facebook. He said:

I'm excited that Hugo Barra is joining Facebook to lead all of our virtual reality efforts, including our Oculus team. Hugo's in China right now, so here we are together in VR. It seems fitting.

Related read: Facebook and Oculus are making science fiction a future reality

Mark noted that he had known Hugo for a long time, starting from when he helped develop the Android operating system, to the last few years when he worked at Xiaomi in Beijing. In a separate announcement on Facebook (duh!), Hugo noted that he would be returning to Silicon Valley and joining  Facebook as VP of virtual reality (VPVR) and lead the Oculus team. He said,

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun always says that the highest calling of an engineer is to make technology breakthroughs quickly and readily available to the widest possible spectrum of humanity. That will be my mission at Facebook and I look forward to building the future of immersive technology with Mark Zuckerberg, Brendan Trexler Iribe, Mike Schroepfer, and the visionaries in the Oculus team.

Regarding Facebook's latest hire, Mark noted that Hugo shares his belief that virtual and augmented reality will be the next major computing platform as they will enable us to experience completely new things and be more creative. He said, "Hugo is going to help build that future, and I'm looking forward to having him on our team."

Startups and even established tech giants seem to be on a hiring and restructuring spree in the first month of 2017. Uber recently hired Amit Singhal, Google’s former search chief and MVP, as SVP of Engineering to report directly to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski, the head of Uber’s self-driving divisions. On January 9, 2017, Kalyan Krishnamurthy took over as Flipkart CEO while Binny Bansal vacated his spot to head the Flipkart Group.

Related read: It wasn’t just Flipkart restructuring this week, Ola, Snapdeal and others followed their lead

While the move has been confirmed by both Mark and Hugo on Facebook, Hugo's LinkedIn profile still (at the time of this writing) states he is the current Global VP of Xiaomi. In his farewell note to Xiaomi, Hugo made a few interesting points. He had said,

I want to thank the Xiaomi founders, and particularly our CEO Lei Jun, who has been a mentor and a friend. It has been both humbling and uplifting to work with a man whose vision is redefining the role technology plays in all of our lives, and the role the China tech industry plays in the world. As a friend and shareholder of the company, I am honored that he has been very supportive of my transition and has asked me to remain an advisor to Xiaomi indefinitely, as we continue to extend our reach around the world.

It will be interesting to see how Hugo now juggles his different hats at Xiaomi and Facebook.


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