Hugo Barra, the ex-Googler who joined Xiaomi in 2013 to lead its international expansion, is now ready to leave the company.
Barra has been one of the most influential leaders Xiaomi ever had, but he announced plans to depart next month, after the Chinese New Year. Before joining Xiaomi, Barra was Google's vice president of Android product management.
Hugo Barra Returning To Silicon Valley
One his Xiaomi tenure ends, Barra says he will return to Silicon Valley to start a new adventure, closer to his family and friends. When he accepted the challenge to help Xiaomi become a global payer, Barra embarked on the "greatest and most challenging" adventure of his life, moving 6,500 miles away to lead the charge from Beijing.
— Hugo Barra (@hbarra) January 23, 2017
"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," says Barra.
However, as great as the journey has been, Barra says that living the past few years so many miles away from his home and comfort zone has affected his life and it's starting to take a toll on his health.
Barra explains that his friends and life are in Silicon Valley, which is also closer to his family.
"Seeing how much I left behind these past few years, it is clear to me that the time has come to return," he adds.
Hugo Barra At Xiaomi
During his time leading Xiaomi's global expansion, Barra made notable headway in improving the company's international profile and reputation. Xiaomi was initially seen as just another Apple copycat, dubbed the "Apple of China," widely seen as yet another Chinese company making Apple product clones.
In the three and a half years that Barra was in charge, however, Xiaomi saw impressive growth and showed the world it can rock its own design credentials, with the Mi Mix proving to be among the most noteworthy new smartphones.
What's Next For Xiaomi?
Xiaomi will fill the gap left by Barra by putting Xiang Wang in charge of the company's global expansion efforts. Wang is currently a senior vice president at Xiaomi, but his new position will involve leading Xiaomi through the rough international waters to help achieve its goals of being a global player.
The company's global presence has been on the rise, however its performance in its home market of China has been steadily declining. Xiaomi was one at the top of the Chinese smartphone market, but in 2016 it dropped out of the top five smartphone vendors and the latest market share stats from IDC don't even mention Xiaomi.
In this context, while Barra's argument that he misses his home and family does make sense, Xiaomi's performance could also have something to do with it.
It remains to be seen how things will pan out for Xiaomi and whether the company will ever manage to bring its smartphones and other devices to Western markets, but things seem tougher now with Barra on his way out. Will Xiang Wang manage to bring Xiaomi smartphones to the United States at last? It's anyone's guess, but don't hold your breath - it may take a long time.