Hugo Barra to lead Facebook's virtual reality division after quitting Xiaomi

Hugo Barra will now take on a different challenge as the Vice President of virtual reality division of Facebook.

hugo barra

Hugo Barra, who quit Xiaomi a few days ago, is joining Facebook as its VR head. Barra made headlines earlier this week when he said he was leaving the rapidly growing Chinese smartphone maker. Now the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed thet Barra is joining none other than his company to lead the virtual reality and augmented reality efforts.

Barra, the man behind the huge success of Xioami in the global market, will now take on a different challenge as the Vice President of virtual reality division of Facebook. He will also lead Oculus, the virtual reality startup that Facebook acquired for $2 billion.

Evidently, this move suggests that Facebook's acquisition was entirely about the technology that Oculus provided, not the leadership coming along with it. Another reason to believe so is that the CEO and co-founder of Oculus, Brendan Iribe, announced in December he was stepping down to work more closely with PC VR within Facebook.

"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."

Barra will draw on his experience building an operating system business, with Google's Android and a hardware brand, with Xiaomi's phones, to help Oculus.

Barra resigned from Xiaomi after serving the company for a turbulent period of four years, during which it rose to the top in its home market. Barra was given the task of taking the Chinese company to the global market, helping it make inroads into India, where sales topped $1 billion for the first time in 2016. Xiaomi was last valued at $45 billion in 2014, making it one of the world's largest startups. It drew comparisons to Apple after doubling revenue that year and climbing to the top of the Chinese smartphone market. It's since struggled, missing its 2015 shipments target and falling behind Chinese brands, Vivo, Oppo and Huawei.

"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," said Hugo Barra 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."

As Zuckerberg made it clear that Barra will not only work on Oculus' virtual reality, he will also work the augmented reality division of the company as well, which Facebook has briefly talked about in the recent 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."

This article was first published on January 27, 2017