Hugo Barra quits: From Google to Xiaomi; here’s the journey of a Silicon Valley star

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Updated: January 26, 2017 3:42:39 PM

Xiaomi's vice president Hugo Barra, also known as the star who helped in building an unproven startup into a global firm, will quit the company in February.

Xiaomi has now lost the advantage of Hugo Barra, who apart from being a great leader, was also the company's face for the market in the west. (Source: Facebook)Xiaomi has now lost the advantage of Hugo Barra, who apart from being a great leader, was also the company’s face for the market in the west. (Source: Facebook)

Xiaomi’s vice president Hugo Barra, also known as the star who helped in building an unproven startup into a global firm, will quit the company in February. Barra, who announced the news of his resignation through a Facebook post, was a veteran in Silicon Valley, before joining Xiaomi in 2013, from a very high position in Google. Now, as he says, ”…it’s time to go back.” When Hugo came to China in 2013, it was a big news, especially since he was at a very senior position in Google’s Android. He came to a new company which had no great records to boast of, which in itself made people sit up and take notice. Barra showed how important China was to the world smartphone market, especially because of its local manufacturers. Apart from Xiaomi, other brands like Oppo, Vivo and Huawei too have shown the potential. But Xiaomi has now lost the advantage of Barra, who apart from being a great leader, was also the company’s face for the market in the west.

WATCH VIDEO | Former Vice President Of Xiaomi Hugo Barra Joins Facebook

A Brazilian by birth, Barra did his schooling in the latin American country itself. He also completed his graduation in engineering from the same country, but later went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was he was the president for a year, as well as keynote speaker. Barra, along with his MIT classmates, had founded a mobile speech recognition software called LOBBY7. The company was later acquired by ScanSoft, and the company was renamed as Nuance Communications, where Barra continued working at product management levels. His love from products got him into Google, which he joined in the year 2008 as a Group Product Manager for mobiles. Two years later, he joined the Android division. While in Google, Barra was involved in a lot of products, from OS’s like Honeycomb, IceCream sandwich, JellyBean and KitKat, he also looked after hardware like the Nexus series of smartphones. Barra also had the additional role of being the product spokesperson for Android. Later, in 2012 he became the Vice President of the company.

Also read | Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra quits, goes back to Silicon Valley; find out why

In the year 2013, Barra left the company for a relatively unknown but fast growing company called Xiaomi, where he served as the vice president international. Xiaomi’s cofounders Lei Jun and Bin Lin had approached him to join the company. Barra was always vocal about the prospect of China’s economy and the possibilities it has for technology-based companies. After joining, in the year 2014, he launched the Redmi and Mi3 phones in Singapore. Under him, the Chinese company expanded into two dozen countries. He also made Xiaomi enter India, which turned out to be highly profitable for the company. Under him, Xiaomi reached $1 billion in annual revenue, here for the first time.

There were eventual plans for the company to make a foray into the US and European markets, but it was clear that Barra was unhappy how despite product launches, including that of Xiaomi Mi and the Xiaomi TV, there were no plans immediately to distribute those devices in western countries. Barra in his Facebook post wrote about his journey in the company and claimed homesickness as the reason him going back to the US. With this move, Xiaomi has lost a prominent global face.

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