Back to life, back to virtual reality: Xiaomi's international boss Hugo Barra joins Facebook's VR unit Oculus

 
Rebecca Smith
INDIA-ECONOMY-SMARTPHONE
Barra is a former Google exec who helped oversee its Android product management (Source: Getty)

Hugo Barra announced he was leaving Xiaomi to make a Silicon Valley return a few days ago and now we know where he was headed: Facebook.

The ex-Google executive who led international expansion at Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi has left the company to take up a role as vice president of virtual reality at Facebook's VR unit Oculus.

Read more: Oculus starts shipping Rift virtual reality headsets

In a - where else? - Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg said Barra had worked at Xiaomi "bringing innovative devices to millions of people" and that he shared his belief "that virtual and augmented reality will be the next major computing platform".

Xiaomi hired Barra in 2013, in a bid to find growth opportunities outside its home market. The firm built up its presence in India, with sales breaking $1bn (£795m) for the first time last year. And during his stint, Xiaomi became China's biggest smartphone seller for a time, though the likes of Huawei and Oppo utilised a similar approach and have caught up fast.

Read more: These smartphone brands grew faster than Apple last year

In a Facebook post Barra said his time there had been "nothing short of spectacular in every way", but that "the last few years of living in such a singular environment have taken a huge toll on my life and started affecting my health".

He said: "My friends, what I consider to be my home, and my life are back in Silicon Valley, which is also much closer to my family.

"Seeing how much I've left behind these past few years, it is clear to me that the time has come to return."

In December, it was announced that Facebook, Google and Samsung had teamed up to form the Global Virtual Reality Association to promote the global growth of virtual reality - expected to be worth $162bn by 2020.

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