Earlier this year, Android boss Andy Rubin left his team to go join another department at Google. Now the Android team has lost another executive member, but he’s leaving Google for another company.
A new Android chapter
After nearly 5½ years at Google and almost 3 years as a member of the Android team — the most amazing group of people I've ever worked with in my life — I have decided to start a new career chapter.
In a few weeks, I'll be joining the Xiaomi team in China to help them expand their incredible product portfolio and business globally — as Vice President, Xiaomi Global. I'm really looking forward to this new challenge, and am particularly excited about the opportunity to continue to help drive the Android ecosystem.
It has been an amazing ride and true honor to be part of the Android team at Google, and I especially want to thank, , and for their phenomenal support and mentorship over the years.
team, I will truly miss you all!
Xiaomi later confirmed the news on Twitter as well:
Hugo will be responsible for Xiaomi’s international business development and Android strategic partnerships.Welcome and let's do sth big!
— Xiaomi (@XiaomiChina) August 29, 2013
Interestingly enough, All Things D reports that Barra resigned suddenly without much explanation. Some speculate that a recent breakup with another Googler could be the cause, but the publication is quick to point out that Barra resigned before the end of his relationship. What makes this even more interesting, however, is that Barra’s former love interest is now seeing Sergey Brin who himself had only just recently split with his wife. You probably shouldn’t read too much into it, but it’s still interesting nonetheless.
Putting relationship gossip aside, Barra’s departure from Android is a pretty big deal. Not only will Google have to find somebody else to show off new Nexus hardware at events, but it could also mean that Android might head into an entirely different direction under new team management. Sundar Pichai was made head of the Android team after Rubin’s departure earlier this year, and some speculate that he could merge Chrome and Android despite assurances that it won’t happen. With Barra gone, there may be even less resistance to any proposed major changes to the Android OS.
Of course, this is all merely speculation for now. So far, Pichai seems to have Android’s best interests at heart. Barra will also still have an influence on Android as Xiaomi, alongside other Chinese handset manufacturers, have a lot to lose if Google tries anything funny with its mobile OS.