Former Google star Hugo Barra resigns from Xiaomi VP role

Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s international vice president, will leave the Chinese phone-maker company next month, he announced on Facebook on Monday.

In his departure announcement, Barra said working at Xiaomi “has been the greatest and most challenging adventure of my life”, but added that he had realised “the last few years of living in such a singular environment have taken a huge toll on my life and started affecting my health”, thus decided to go back to Silicon Valley. He will remain an advisor to Xiaomi indefinitely.

“As much as we would love to have Hugo stay with us in Beijing for a much longer time, we understand his personal challenges and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. I’m also looking forward to working closely with him in his new role as advisor to Xiaomi,” said Bin Lin, founder and president at Xiaomi.

Lin added that Xiang Wang, Xiaomi’s senior vice president, will continue to lead the brand’s global efforts moving forward.

Barra has been the Chinese brand’s former star hire for the past three and a half years, serving as the public face and leader of global operations. His hire in 2013 shocked the tech industry as it marked the first high-profile example for a Chinese company to get talent from Silicon Valley – prior to working at Xiaomi, Barra was a former star at Google who oversaw the development of Android.

His team has brought Xiaomi into India with $1 billion in annual revenues, and oversaw expansion into Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and more recently 20 other markets including Russia, Mexico, and Poland. The brand debuted at CES 2017, but its smartphones have yet to reach the US market.

Barra’s departure draws more doubt about the company’s future. In the first quarter of 2016, Xiaomi was booted off IDC’s list of the top-five smartphone vendors. Other than Apple and Samsung, the other three on the list now are Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, which are all Chinese companies.

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