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.”