Facebook Once Again Reorganizes Oculus Leadership
For the umpteenth time, Facebook carried out a reshuffle of the top leadership of its virtual reality arm, Oculus, this week. The technology company announced that Oculus head Hugo Barra will be moving into a new role which will be focused on the interaction with the outside partners. His position will be taken up by Eric Tseng who was previously the director of AR/VR product management at Facebook.
Hugo Barra is a former Xiaomi executive who has been at the head of the Oculus VR team since 2017. In the latest major shakeup, he will now be transitioning out of that role and taking up a new role in Facebook’s global AR/VR partner initiative where he will be tasked with developing a global AR/VR partner ecosystem that will be based in New York.
Taking a new role @facebook building a global AR/VR partner ecosystem based in NYC, after 2+ amazing years leading the @oculus team. With Quest shipping 5/21, our first-gen VR lineup is now complete.Time for me to take on the next big challenge—bringing AR and VR to more people!
— Hugo Barra (@hbarra) May 9, 2019
Barra is moving out at a time when Facebook’s new virtual reality headsets, including the much-anticipated standalone VR headset, Oculus Quest are launching onto the market. With the Oculus’s first-generation lineup of VR headset now complete, he will be transitioning out into a new role as an AR/VR evangelist and partnership builder.
Nothing is changing with the Oculus brand
Facebook has stated that Oculus’ place at Facebook isn’t changing and now that the company has a hardware lineup that includes Oculus Quest, Rift S and the Oculus Go, the company now has a complete product portfolio for its first-generation of headsets.
With both VR and AR going mainstream in the near future, Facebook is recognizing the need to expand and invest in a global partner ecosystem that will help them take the technologies to the masses. After overseeing both the product and global strategy for years, Facebook has now tapped Hugo to oversee this next phase which will involve outreach.
I have a new role @facebook: VP Special Gaming Initiatives, working on positively impacting game communities. Related, @michael_verdu is joining Oculus as Director of Content. I will continue to work w/ Mike & @oculusgaming to bring bigger and better content to VR!
— Jason Rubin (@Jason_Rubin) May 9, 2019
Also affected by the reshuffle is Oculus former VP of content Jason Rubin who now assumes the position of VP for “special gaming initiatives”. According to Rubin, the position will entail “working on positively impacting gaming communities”. The new role will transcend virtual reality as Rubin will not only focus on delivering great VR content but he is also looking forward to “exploring other exciting game-related opportunities wherever they may be”. Rubin’s position of Oculus content director will be taken up by Michael Verdu who was previously based at the Electronic Arts’ mobile division.
Facebook has been restructuring Oculus into a more general VR and AR division for some time now and this is just the latest of the multiple reorganizations that it has carried out in the past few years. From 2016 to date, Oculus hasn’t had its own CEO and Facebook is now focusing on regrouping the Oculus headset along with its Portal camera into a broad “VR/AR” category. Facebook also wants to build the next generation of virtual reality headsets along with augmented reality headsets, building on the work that was done by Michael Abrash, the Oculus chief scientist.
For now, Facebook’s standard line is that with the launch of Quest and Rift S, it has now brushed up on its first generation of its VR hardware portfolio and the company is in the process of exploring what its “second-generation” of virtual reality hardware will look like. Based on this, Barra’s transitioning into a role focused on building the ecosystem of its existing products is the logical thing to do. However, the reshuffling may also be a precursor to a more ambitious bid by Facebook to more heavily integrate its Oculus products into a much bigger lineup of both hardware and software products that will include augmented reality devices.