Every few months, fans and the tech media in India would get to see and meet Hugo Barra, the charismatic face of Xiaomi and vice president in charge of the company's global operations and expansion. And, now, he's leaving.
Barra and his very active team in India have worked hard and worked right to make Indian tech lovers stop thinking of Xiaomi as a cheap China Apple-copycat and see it as a company that innovates in its own right and brings excellently designed products into India at prices that Indians are willing to pay -- something Apple never quite achieves, its model being different.
Having gained a huge amount of traction with Indian customers, Xiaomi will now have to say goodbye to Barra as he announces his intention to head back to the Silicon Valley. Not a rumour, not conjecture, but a definite plan, going by Barra's own social media posts.
"The last few years of living in such a singular environment have taken a huge toll on my life and started affecting my health," Barra wrote on Facebook. "Seeing how much I've left behind these past few years, it is clear to me that the time has come to return." According to Reuters, Senior Vice President Xiang Wang will lead the company's global expansion now, but whether we'll see him as we did Barra in India is unknown at this point.
Brazil-born Barra came to Xiaomi from Google, where he was in a number of product management roles in London and California, including Vice President and product spokesman of Google's Android division. It was as much of a surprise when he left Google to join Xiaomi as it is today when he leaves Xiaomi for a new project in Silicon Valley.
Admirable as Xiaomi's growth in India may be, not long ago the company had admitted to growing too fast, and it's no longer sharing yearly figures. Xiaomi shot to becoming one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world since it launched in 2010, with its smartphone sales seeing surprising year-on-year jumps. Now, this growth is said to be on the verge of slowing down, if it hasn't already. It isn't known whether this trend has anything to do with Barra's imminent departure from Xiaomi.
It will be interesting to see whether the momentum of Xiaomi's growth is kept up in India.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)