Former Xiaomi Global executive Hugo Barra joins Facebook to lead virtual reality business

Facebook Inc has hired Hugo Barra, the most prominent global executive at Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc, to lead its virtual reality business including the Oculus unit, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said.

The 32-year-old Facebook founder has spoken about virtual reality as an important part of the company’s future business, especially as the technology becomes less expensive and its uses clearer. Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014, believing it to be the next major computing platform.

“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,” Zuckerberg said in a post on Facebook.

Earlier this week, Barra said he was stepping down as Xiaomi’s vice president after three-and-a-half-years, citing health concerns and a new job. During the announcement Barra said ““This journey has been nothing short of spectacular in every way, and I can proudly say that Xiaomi Global is the first baby I helped bring into the world”. The sudden move was unexpected and nobody anticipated as he is the most recognised face to represent Xiaomi on the global platform.

His exit comes at a time when Xiaomi is trying to adjust its strategy. The company pulled back from several overseas markets, including Singapore and Brazil, in 2016. It is increasing its offline retail presence and aims to develop artificial intelligence and internet finance as growth areas.

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