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Facebook Hires Hugo Barra to Lead VR Division

Hugo Barra, an exec late of Xiaomi and Google, has been hired to lead all of Facebook’s virtual reality efforts, including the team of Oculus, the VR company Facebook acquired in 2014 for $2 billion.

The hiring of Barra, as VP of virtual reality at Facebook , comes more than a month after Oculus announced it was to be split into groups focused on PC and mobile VR, with Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe stepping down from that role to instead head up Oculus’s PC VR division. Jon Thomason now leads Oculus’s mobile VR group.  

RELATED: Oculus Splits Into Groups Focused on PC, Mobile VR

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the hiring Wednesday on Facebook  coupled with an image showing avatars of Zuckerberg and Barra sitting together in a virtualized setting.

“Hugo's in China right now, so here we are together in VR. It seems fitting,” Zuckerberg wrote, adding that Barra “shares my belief that virtual and augmented reality will be the next major computing platform.”

Barra added  on Facebook that he’ll be joining the team in a couple of months, will look forward to “taking VR mainstream,” and also confirmed his appointment (and title) via  Twitter:

Joining Facebook as VP of virtual reality (VPVR!) to lead Team @Oculus. So excited! Mark posted about it here: https://t.co/kYgIniSQiMpic.twitter.com/7fYTkniykr

— Hugo Barra (@hbarra) January 26, 2017

The hiring of Barra comes as Facebook and Oculus look to drive greater adoption of VR and as they face competition from other players, including HTC and Google and Sony.  Facebook/Oculus are also working on a standalone VR headset that would fall somewhere between its PC-tethered Rift product and the mobile-focused Samsung Gear VR, which is powered by Oculus.

RELATED: Oculus Developing Standalone VR Headset