Exit from Xiaomi Announces Hugo Barra

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News reaching around tech giant Xomia

Hugo Barra, the person tasked with expanding Xiaomi's reach beyond its

native China, has today announced his departure from the post. He will

conclude his Xiaomi tenure after the Chinese New Year next month, and

will return to Silicon Valley — where he served as Google's vice

president of Android product management until 2013— to "embark on a

new adventure." Barra says that his decision has been strongly

motivated by a feeling of detachment from his family and the life he

had built up in Silicon Valley:

"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,…

"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."

In his time at Xiaomi, Barra did a lot to raise

the company's global profile and

respectability. When he first arrived, Xiaomi

was widely derided as a cynical Apple

copycat, but in the three and a half years that

have followed, the Chinese company has

asserted its own design credentials , and last

year it introduced one of the most

impressively futuristic new devices in its Mi

Mix smartphone. Barra will be succeeded by

Xiang Wang, who's already a senior vice

president at Xiaomi, in the role of stewarding

the company's international expansion efforts.

While Xiaomi's international presence has

been improving, its performance at home in

China has been steadily declining. Having

once been the darling of the Chinese

smartphone market, Xiaomi dropped out of

the top five smartphone vendors in 2016 , and

it didn't even register a mention in IDC's latest

market share numbers . So while Barra puts

the cause of his resignation down to a sense

of homesickness, it's also inarguable that

Xiaomi has struggled to live up to its

ambitious goals.

The arrival of Hugo Barra in Beijing back in

2013 was a major story because of how

senior he was within Google's Android team

and the relatively unproven company he was

leaving that position for. It was a sign of faith

in the growing importance of China and its

local phone makers to the future of the

mobile industry, and it gave Xiaomi an easily

recognizable ambassador in the West. But

Barra was no doubt also frustrated in his

efforts, having launched the Xiaomi Mi 5 at

Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year

and a new Xiaomi TV at the Consumer

Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year

without any plans to distribute those products

in Western markets.

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