Xiaomi VP Hugo Barra quits to return to Silicon Valley

23 Jan, 2017

Hugo Barra, vice president at smartphone maker Xiaomi Inc. and one of its most celebrated executives, has left the company for a new project based in Silicon Valley.

In a Facebook post, Barra said he was "taking some much-needed time off before embarking on a new adventure in Silicon Valley." He also said that the last few years of living in a singular environment had taken a huge toll on his life and started affecting his health.

Barra joined Xiaomi three-and-a-half years ago and he spearheaded the company's global expansion plans, including in emerging markets like India.

Queries sent to Xiaomi regarding Barra's exit remained unanswered at the time of writing this report. An alumnus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Barra had previously worked at Google in various roles. Prior to that, he worked at Massachusetts-based Nuance Communications.

Xiaomi registered revenues of $1 billion (nearly Rs 7,000 crore) in India in 2016, only two years after it started its operations in the country.

"We turned India from a dream into Xiaomi's largest international market with $1 billion in annual revenues, faster than any company in India's history. We expanded into Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and more recently 20 other markets including Russia, Mexico, and Poland," Barra said in the post.

The Chinese company is the second-most-valued startup in the world after Silicon Valley-based cab-hailing firm Uber. The Beijing-headquartered tech firm is valued at $45 billion currently.

Xiaomi's mobile phones have been a massive hit in India over the last couple of years. It started its India journey with the model Mi3 two years ago, through an exclusive partnership with Flipkart. The company has also partnered distributors such as Redington, Innocomm, StoreKing and Just By Live to reach more than 8,500 retail stores across the country.

According to the company, till September 2016, it has managed to sell over 2.3 million units of the Redmi Note 3 and over a million units of the newly launched Redmi 3S and Redmi 3s Prime smartphones.