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Facebook's Oculus VR leader Hugo Barra is stepping down

The head of Facebook's virtual reality headset division says he's staying at Facebook, moving on to focus on partnerships. Longtime Facebooker Erick Tseng will be taking over.

Hugo Barra ran Oculus for more than two years.
James Martin/CNET

Changes are happening at the top of Facebook's Oculus VR team.

Hugo Barra, who took over running Oculus VR from founding CEO Brendan Iribe in 2017, said Thursday that he's stepping down as the head of Oculus just as the team is preparing to release its Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S headsets this month. Barra said next he'll be helping to build AR and VR partnerships for Facebook out of New York.

"Time for me to take on the next big challenge -- bringing AR and VR to more people!" he wrote in a tweet announcing the move.


CNET's Scott Stein called Facebook's $399 Oculus Quest, shipping May 21, the best gadget he's tried so far this year.

Screenshot by Clifford Colby/CNET

Facebook said Erick Tseng, a nearly decade-long veteran of Facebook, will be taking over for Barra. Before working at Facebook, Tseng had worked at Google, helping lead its Android team. Barra also worked at Google, helping lead the Android group before leaving in 2013 to assist in running the Chinese phone maker Xiaomi.

The move marks another shift for Oculus, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for more than $2 billion. Since that purchase, its original leaders have left, including CEO Iribe and its young headset inventor, Palmer Luckey.

Part of what led to Luckey leaving was a Daily Beast story from 2016 about how he'd helped finance an online group that put up a billboard before the US presidential election with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's face above the words "Too Big To Jail." 

A story in The Wall Street Journal last year, and then a book called The History of the Future this year, both reported that Luckey was effectively forced out over his political activity. Facebook then said personnel matters were confidential.

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Barra's shift to AR may indicate that Facebook's investments in the technology are expanding. Two years ago, the company announced sweeping efforts to bring AR to its apps and services. Facebook has also said it's working on AR glasses, an area already being popularized by Microsoft's HoloLens headset and the startup Magic Leap. Apple too is working on a device, planed for next year, sources have told CNET.

Barra said Facebook "is setting an ambitious plan for delivering AR glasses."

"As we move toward a world where VR and AR devices are mainstream, we will need to significantly expand and invest in the global partner ecosystem to make them available to everyone," a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement. "Hugo is the perfect person to lead this effort after overseeing product and global strategy for so many years."

MY NEXT AR/VR CHALLENGE AT FACEBOOK When Mark approached me a couple of years ago to come to Facebook to work on...

Posted by Hugo Barra on Thursday, May 9, 2019

First published May 9 at 12:22 p.m. PT.
Update, 4:23 p.m. PT: Adds Barra's expanded statement.