Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has tapped Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s current Global VP, for the position of CEO at Oculus VR. Barra will be tasked with not only leading Oculus, Facebook’s subsidiary, but all of Facebook’s VR projects. Barra will be replacing Brendan Iribe who stepped down from the position last month to head the company’s PC VR group.
Before his time at Xiaomi, Brazilian entrepreneur Barra was also VP of Android product management, often taking to the stage at major events to introduce new versions of the mobile operating system and the company’s flagship phones. Later, Barra left Google for chinese mobile manufacturer Xiaomi becoming VP of International, again taking on front-of-house duties for the company’s major announcements.
“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,” writes Zuckerberg in a Facebook blogpost.
“Hugo shares my belief that virtual and augmented reality will be the next major computing platform. 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.”
“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,” writes Barra. “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. Really looking forward to doing just that at Facebook — taking VR mainstream — working with you, Brendan, Mike Schroepfer, and the Oculus team!”
It’s been a tumultuous few months at Oculus, with the surprise announcement that its original CEO, Brendan Iribe, was to step down and the ongoing $2 billion legal battle with game publisher Zenimax over alleged IP theft by their former employee and now Oculus CTO, John Carmack. That legal case is due to reach its conclusion on Monday, with any potential ramifications likely falling to Barra to deal with.
The appointment of Barra hopefully now provides Oculus with the leadership it needs as it continues to try to build its VR empire in the face of strong competition from Valve and HTC in the PC VR market and Google’s Daydream VR offering rivalry for Oculus’ partnership with Samsung on the Gear VR headset. But despite suffering a number of setbacks in 2016, with the strong public support from its parent company Facebook and the universally well received recent launch of its motion controllers Oculus Touch, Barra has reasons to be positive heading into 2017 in his new role.