It was huge news when Hugo Barra announced he was leaving Google for Xiaomi in 2013.Then earlier this week he announced he was leaving Xiaomi, essentially removing an American face from the rapidly growing Chinese smartphone company. Now, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed Barra is going to work for Facebook where he’ll lead Oculus and the company’s virtual reality and AR efforts.
“I’m excited that Hugo Barra is joining Facebook to lead all of our virtual reality efforts, including our Oculus team,” Zuckerberg said this week. “I’ve known Hugo for a long time, starting when he helped develop the Android operating system, to the last few years he’s worked at Xiaomi in Beijing bringing innovative devices to millions of people.”
It’s interesting to note that Zuckerberg is putting Hugo in charge of VR, especially if one considers that Facebook paid $2 billion for Oculus. The move suggests Facebook’s acquisition was purely about the technology Oculus provided, and not necessarily the leadership that came with it. Oculus’ CEO and co-founder Brendan Iribe announced he was stepping down in December to work more closely with PC VR within Facebook, so a leadership role seems to have been open anyway.
Hugo will work on more than just Oculus’ virtual reality platform at Facebook. He’ll also help launch the company’s augmented reality initiatives, which Facebook has talked about briefly in the past. “Hugo shares my belief that virtual and augmented reality will be the next major computing platform,” Zuckerberg said. “They’ll enable us to experience completely new things and be more creative than ever before. Hugo is going to help build that future, and I’m looking forward to having him on our team.”
Hugo Barra starting at Facebook soon
Barra sounds just as excited to begin. “It’s been a dream of mine to work in virtual reality even back when AR/VR were just figments of science fiction; now we’re taking selfies in virtual worlds,” he said in a response to Zuckerberg. ” I learned from Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun that there’s no greater calling in our industry than taking breakthrough tech and making it available to the greatest number of people.”
Barra said he’ll start at Facebook “in a few months.”