Hugo Barra is leaving Xiaomi to return to Silicon Valley

Xiaomi had hired Hugo Barra from Google to lead its expansion outside China.


Hugo Barra today announced he is leaving Xiaomi. He was the Chinese startup’s most high profile hire way back in 2013 when Xiaomi was an unknown company outside of China. Barra, who was the Vice President of Android at Google, was hired to expand Xiaomi’s presence in international markets. Barra announced the news of his departure via Facebook.

“When Lei Jun and Bin Lin came to me nearly four years ago with the opportunity to help turn a young rockstar startup into a global player, 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,” Barra wrote.

During his tenure, Xiaomi moved out of China, first launching in neighbouring south east Asian countries like Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, before launching in India, its most successful market outside of China. Xiaomi recently announced it had crossed $1 billion in annual revenues in India, making it the fastest company to do so.

However, Xiaomi has not really been able to make a mark in any other international market as it still struggles to meet demand for its smartphones in China and India. Its growth in China has slowed down as rivals like Huawei, OPPO and Vivo have caught on to Xiaomi’s playbook had have left it behind with a wider offline presence in addition to copying Xiaomi’s successful online flash sale model. The company is nowhere closer to launching its smartphones in western Europe or North America. Xiaomi has failed to achieve its smartphone sales targets two years in a row and the company hasn’t publicly announced any sales targets for 2017.

Meanwhile, Xiaomi has moved on from being a smartphone brand to an ‘Internet of Everything’ brand with its Mi Ecosystem, a group of over 70 startups that produce everything from power banks to air purifiers to rice cookers and smart bikes.

As for Barra, he is going back to the Silicon Valley. “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,” he wrote.

Barra did not announce where he will be joining next.

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  • Published Date: January 23, 2017 11:45 AM IST
  • Updated Date: January 23, 2017 11:51 AM IST