Former Xiaomi executive tasked with leading Facebook’s VR business

Hugo Barra, Xiaomi's global vice-president, speaking at the Startup Asia technology conference in Singapore. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg has chosen a prominent former executive of a leading Chinese smartphone maker to lead his virtual reality business.

Earlier this week, it was announced by Xiaomi that its global vice president Hugo Barra was resigning from his position after three-and-half years at the helm. His departure was seen as a huge blow for Xiaomi and the reasons cited for his resignation were due to health concerns and an exciting new challenge in Silicon Valley.

Now it has been officially disclosed that the exciting new venture in Silicon will be with Facebook. Barra will lead its virtual reality project, including the Oculus unit, and the announcement was made via a Facebook post by Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook’s founder has long discussed his passion and vision for virtual reality – and Zuckerberg has predicted it to be a very important part of the company’s future business –especially as technology become less expensive and its uses clearer.

Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus in 2014 was seen an indication that it believed it would be the next major computing platform.

In his statement, Zuckerberg said: “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.”

Barra’s 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.