For those of us outside China, Hugo Barra is pretty much the face of Xiaomi. He’s there for the launches, he’s there for keynotes and he was also there to show us how to ride the Ninebot Mini up an escalator.
But now, the Mi Fans’ beloved Tiger Bro will be leaving Xiaomi to return home to Silicon Valley.
In Hugo’s long post on Facebook, the current Vice President of International for Xiaomi stated that living in Beijing took a huge toll on his life to the extent of it affecting his health. As he thought about how much he left behind when he moved to Beijing, Hugo came to the conclusion that it was time to go home.
Hugo’s task at Xiaomi was to develop their brand internationally, turning the Chinese company into a full-fledged global player. Before he arrived, the company had built up a bit of a reputation in the West as an Apple copycat and it wasn’t hard to see why. From the way their products were designed to their website and even how keynote speeches were carried out, the similarities between them and Cupertino were uncanny.
Of course, you can still see some of this “copycat”-ery today, in products like Xiaomi’s Mi Notebook Air for example, but they have definitely been making their mark in the design space too. Just last year they wowed the world with their amazing bezel-less Mi MIX “concept smartphone”, something I doubt many saw coming.
Last year also marked the first time Xiaomi made an appearance in the largest mobile event of the year, Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, when they launched the Mi 5. Then, early this year they also made an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, one of the biggest tech events of the year, showcasing their new Xiaomi Mi TV.
This company has been through a lot and has grown a lot and it’s in no small part due to the former Google VP’s direction and leadership. Now, once he’s left, Hugo will be succeeded by Xiang Wang, another Senior Vice President at Xiaomi.
Xiaomi co-founder and President Lin Bin has stated in a comment on Hugo’s Facebook post that the company has “ambitious expansion plans” this year so Mi Fans everywhere should have plenty to look forward to.
Hugo will be leaving Xiaomi after the Chinese New Year and will be taking some time off before embarking on a new journey back in the States. There is no doubt that Hugo’s contribution to Xiaomi was a big one as his partnership with them meant the Chinese company had a recognisable face in the West. Hugo’s move from Google to Xiaomi made headlines but seeing the growth he brought to Xiaomi and how far they’ve come, perhaps it was the right choice. It will definitely be interesting to see where Xiaomi goes from here.
You can also read Hugo’s full Facebook post here: