Here’s a shocker: Hugo Barra is leaving Xiaomi

Bin Lin + Hugo Barra
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It seems like yesterday that the high-profile ex-Google VP Hugo Barra began his journey with tech startup Xiaomi. Today, Barra announced his departure on his Facebook page, saying he’s heading home and to “embark on a new adventure.”

At Google, Barra served as Google’s VP of Android product management. Xiaomi founders Lei Jun and Bin Lin enticed Barra to join a startup brand in Beijing, with dreams of turning it into a global brand. And, as you all know, it did.

In just four years, Xiaomi has expanded from a local hero to a global business setting foot into Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and 20 other markets including Russia, Mexico and Poland.

With Barra at the helm, Xiaomi took to India and quickly made it its largest international market – with US$1 billion annual revenues.

Hugo Barra Mi 5 MWC 2016

Xiaomi made an appearance at MWC 2016 and also stepped into the US for the first time before making its debut at CES 2017.

For those who’ve met him and known him in the tech circle, he’s pretty much been the face of Xiaomi.

Barra said, “…I embarked on what has been the greatest and most challenging adventure of my life. I moved to Beijing, 6,500 miles out of my comfort zone in Silicon Valley, to build from scratch a startup team within a bigger startup. This journey has been nothing short of spectacular in every way, and I can proudly say that Xiaomi Global is the first baby I helped bring into the world.”

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Bin Lin + Hugo Barra

A case of homesickness?

“But 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,” Barra said in his Facebook post.

Barra lamented that Xiaomi is in a very good position on its global expansion path. Importantly, he says that the company has some of the most remarkable and enthusiastic people he’s ever worked with.

Is his departure a case of homesickness or is there more to the story? While Xiaomi’s global expansion has seen some momentum, sales at home hasn’t been rosy. For the first time since it’s meteoric rise, it dropped out of the top five smartphone makers in 2016.

Barra will be succeeded by Xiang Wang, who’s currently a senior vice president at Xiaomi.

Nonetheless, I wish Hugo all the best on his new adventures in Silicon Valley, and a safe journey home.

Via The Verge

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