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Change is coming to China-based phone maker Xiaomi with the resignation of Hugo Barra, the company’s vice president of international. After nearly four years, the Google-turned-Xiaomi executive said he’ll be taking “much-needed time off” before pursing another adventure in Silicon Valley.
Xiaomi founder Bin Lin said that Xiang Wang, the company’s senior vice president, has been tapped as Barra’s replacement. “We have ambitious expansion plans for 2017 and are confident in Xiang’s leadership to take our global business to even greater heights,” Lin said.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Barra shared that he is departing at a time when he feels Xiaomi is in a good place with its global expansion path. And while the technology company has seen quite a bit of success, including making its U.S. debut at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, as well as in India and 20 other countries, success is not without complications, such as revelations that the company will no longer release sale numbers for its smartphones.
After five years at Google, where he last served as the vice president of product management for Android, Barra jumped over to work at Xiaomi, a now-six year old company that has seen some pretty good growth and once achieved a $45 billion valuation. In his role there, he was tasked with helping Xiaomi expand the product portfolio and business globally.
“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,” Lin said. Barra cited homesickness as the reason for his departure, saying that his friends and life are in Silicon Valley, and he just didn’t wish to be separated any longer.
Since joining Xiamo in 2013, Barra has overseen the company’s growth from Greater China to countries like India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia, Mexico, and Poland. There was even talk about expanding into the U.S., but that hasn’t quite come to fruition, although the company did launch a set-top box unique to the market.
Under Barra’s watch, Xiaomi also brought in $1 billion in revenue in India, its largest international market.
“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.
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