Hugo Barra steps down as Facebook VR chief

May 10, 2019 | 11:26

Tags: #augmented-reality #erick-tseng #hugo-barra #oculus-quest #oculus-rift #virtual-reality

Companies: #facebook #oculus-vr

Facebook's Hugo Barra has announced that he is leaving his position as the leader of the company's Oculus VR division and other virtual reality efforts in order to 'build a global AR/VR partner ecosystem,' and is to be replaced by Erick Tseng after just over two years in the role.

Facebook trumpeted its hiring of Hugo Barra, best known for his role as vice-president of product management for Android at Google before moving to Chinese technology company Xiaomi, back in January 2017. At the time, Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg claimed to be 'excited that Hugo Barra is joining Facebook to lead all of our virtual reality efforts' - but after just over two years in the role, Barra is shifting sideways into what appears at first glance to be a lesser position.

Announced by Barra in a Twitter post first spotted by The Verge, the departure sees Barra remain at Facebook but to build what he describes as 'a global AR/VR [Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality] partner ecosystem based in NYC.' While ecosystem-building is an undeniably important role, it's one that feels something of a step down from sitting at the head of the table for everything AR and VR at Facebook.

Barra is to be replaced in his former role by Erick Tseng, previously the company's director of product management. The reason for the shift has not been given, though it comes shortly ahead of the Oculus Quest standalone VR headset launch - marking, Barra claims, the completion of Oculus VR's 'first-gen VR lineup.'

Estimates prepared by Statista suggest that Facebook's Oculus VR sits in second place in the virtual reality market, a significant distance behind Sony and its PlayStation 4-tethered PlayStation VR headset but comfortably ahead of direct rival HTC and its Vive family of devices.

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