Mark Zuckerberg Puts Hugo Barra In Charge Of Facebook VR, Oculus

by Joe Durbin • January 25th, 2017

Tonight Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Hugo Barra will become the new head of Facebook’s virtual reality efforts, which includes leading its Oculus team. According to a post published on the 32-year-old’s Facebook page:

I’m excited that Hugo Barra is joining Facebook to lead all of our virtual reality efforts, including our Oculus team. Hugo’s in China right now, so here we are together in VR. It seems fitting.

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.

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.

Co-founder Brendan Iribe recently vacated his role as CEO of Oculus to lead a PC-focused VR group. A separate team within Oculus is now working on mobile VR as well. The company Zuckerberg purchased in 2014 continues to be integrated into Facebook’s larger efforts, and it seems Barra will be in charge of leading the next stage of this evolution.

In a tweet of his own, Barra clarified his title by writing  that he is, “Joining Facebook as VP of virtual reality (VPVR!) to lead Team @oculus. So excited!” This puts him in league with the likes of Clay Bavor at Google and means that now two of the world’s largest tech companies have VPs of VR.

The decision not to name Barra as a CEO further underscores the steady absorption of Oculus into Facebook. Oculus is now officially being spoken of as one of Facebook’s many teams. This is in line with a Reddit comment Iribe left a month ago stating that “We’re retiring the CEO title now that Oculus is owned by Facebook, and I’m focusing on Rift, Research, and the future of VR.”

Previously, Barra worked at Google as part of the Android team. From 2010 to 2013 Barra also took on the role of official spokesman for Android and was the face many would see at Google’s regular conferences when the mobile OS was being discussed. In the middle of that Barra was promoted to full vice president in 2012. He served in that role through several popular iterations of the Android operating system.

Before coming to Facebook, he also spent three and a half years at Xiaomi, a smartphone manufacturer that has been called “The Apple of China.”

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  • JSM21

    Helped w/ Android OS? Is that all?

    • David Dewis

      Im not really familiar with him, but many people on other sites are claiming he was the guy that took Android from its crappy beginnings to the major OS it is now. The jump from 2.0 to 3.0/4.0 was his doing apparently.

  • VR Games For

    He is one of my favorite faces in the mobile phone industry. Such a lovable person that really made Xiaomi what it is today in my opinion. I always for new announcement by him. It’s great to see him finding his place in Facebook and I’m sure it will help get Oculus to even greater heights. So happy for you Hugo!

  • ” two of the world’s largest tech companies have VPs of VR”
    Last week Mark Zuckerberg said they were planning to spend another $3billion on VR. This is tremendously exciting for the industry.

  • Robbie Cartwright

    Well, from everything I’ve heard, sounds like they hit the jackpot with this one! XD

  • Get Schwifty!

    This to me (and I currently own a Rift+Touch setup) that Facebook is not so interested in the PC-origins of Oculus as it sees Oculus as a predominant brand in the making in the mobile space ultimately, where the social media focus of Facebook thrives. To me this doesn’t bode well ultimately for focus on the PC side, which is currently the center of Oculus but seems to be more of a side focus in the big picture at Facebook. I hope I am wrong because part of HTC’s push is in part due to competition from Oculus, like them or not, so if Oculus doesn’t push hard in the PC-based market then that will slow PC-based VR development somewhat.

    • Scott C

      I wouldn’t be too glum on this front. PC-Rift is still where they can control the platform. I’m sure they’re still intensely focused on mobile VR (ugh), as mobile is where users throw app permissions at you like candy and you get to peek into all their delicious data to serve them better ads. But Zuckerberg continues to talk about VR/AR as a creative platform, and that speaks to content creation and productivity apps that are going to remain solidly on the PC no matter whether mobile VR takes off or not. Consider Quill vs. TiltBrush, and I think you’ll see their commitment to creating powerful content creation in VR to actually compete with content creation platforms from Adobe and the like.

  • Good luck to this guy, seems a talented one. What I don’t like is the slow vanishing of Oculus to become just a branch of Facebook…