There are certain changes in the Silicon Valley, or the whole IT and tech community that are expected. And there are certain changes that are unexpected. Then there are those rare cases when a change is very unexpected and catches everyone completely off guard. One of these rare occurrences happened on 26th January, Thursday, when the CEO of Facebook said this in a post on Facebook: “I’m excited that Hugo Barra is joining Facebook to lead all of our virtual reality efforts, including our Oculus team.” He also added,” 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.”
Now why is this so huge? Well it was widely known that Facebook is entering the virtual reality market especially after Facebook acquired Oculus VR back in March 2014, one of the leading virtual reality technology developers and producers at the time. They were one of the first Virtual Reality developers and planned the distribution of Oculus virtual reality headset on a mass scale. The acquisition was valued at 2 Million USD. Since then, there haven’t been a lot of developments in Virtual reality by Facebook up until October 2016, when Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated a video for Oculus connect, by visiting virtual locations, meeting people in a virtual setting, even sword fighting and stepping on Mars. That was the first hint about the direction Facebook wanted to take with Virtual Reality. So there was just one important ingredient missing from the recipe. The star power and Hugo brought just that. In another unexpected move, Hugo had posted that he was quitting as the vice president of Xiaomi and returning to Silicon Valley. He didn’t mention his future endeavors though. So this was huge when Mr. Zuckerberg announced Hugo’s joining on his page.
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Hugo Barra, born in Brazil is a computer scientist and an entrepreneur who has a vast experience of product management. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with a bachelor’s degree in management science and Masters in computer engineering and electrical engineering. Before joining Xiaomi he was served at Google for 5 years as a product manager for multiple products as well as being the vice president and the spokesman for Android division at Google. This is where he truly became a well know personality and started to get recognized internationally. He left Google for to join Xiaomi in September 2013. At Xiaomi he took on the roll of the vice president and was in charge of deciding for Xiaomi which area to expand further into. It was under his supervision that Xiaomi was introduced in India and it became one of the best sales regions for the company. He took his leave from Xiaomi and said “What I’ve realized is 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. 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.”
So while he cited less time being spent with his family as one of the main reasons to quit Xiaomi, His main motivation was the joining of Facebook, which of course he would have known about well in advance. If he hadn’t received an invite from Facebook, he might still be working at Xiaomi and planning his next region which was the United States of America, which, of course, he might have visited or even stayed at, for long terms while he developed the market there for Xiaomi products. Never the less he is no longer at Xiaomi and is spear heading the team at Oculus VR. Now what does it mean and what does the future hold for Hugo?
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are the fields of tomorrow. As Mark Zuckerberg mentioned, Facebook is now looking towards the future and for the future it is looking towards the up and coming technologies like virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence etc. With Oculus Connect in sight, Facebook knows that it needs to develop the platform and market it to the best of its abilities in order to capture the market. One of the most prominent countries to use the VR headsets the most is China. It is estimated that China alone will make up more than 20 percent of the Virtual reality headsets by the end of this year or in the next year. And who is the recent hire by Facebook that has stayed at and has a long experience of how Chinese market works? His name rhymes with “You Go”. Yes you guessed it, it’s Hugo Barra. He probably has the best understanding of how the Chinese market will react to this even if the social network website is currently banned in the country. He will find a way to have it approved and cleared, or find an alternative way to use it. Let’s not forget that Oculus VR is a product on its own, the recent developments in the hardware are well ahead of its time. So, let’s see what Mr. Barra and Mr. Zuckerberg comes up with to make Virtual Reality as wide spread as possible. Because that’s one thing you can count on with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, is that they can bring any product to the masses and have it shifted to the mainstream audience. They of course have the biggest network of people available right now, and it’s very easy to spread information and advertise your products when you have that kind of audience. Mr. Hugo Barra is the best man possible for this job and for handling any future development and marketing challenges.