Hugo Barra, vice president of Android product management for Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is leaving the company for Xioami Global, a growing Chinese mobile phone manufacturer. Google has not named an immediate replacement, leading to speculation that Barra's resignation was sudden and caused by an internal conflict.
Barra was a top executive covering Google’s Android operating system. He had become one of the more prominent public faces of Android – introducing the Nexus 7 tablet last year at Google I/O, and also playing a large role at this year’s event.
Citing unnamed sources “close to the situation,” AllThingsD reported that Barra was romantically involved with a Google employee, who is now seeing company co-founder Sergey Brin. That employee has been identified as a marketing manager for Google Glass named Amanda Rosenberg.
The report from AllThingsD noted that Barra tendered his resignation before a recent situation that involved his former relationship with Rosenberg. The site described the incident as “thorny,” but said that Barra’s resignation was “unrelated.” Conflicting reports from other news outlets, such as the Sydney Morning Herald, state that Barra’s exit was a “collateral casualty” of the inter-office romance.
Xioami is a Chinese handset maker that has an increasing market share in Asia. The Chinese manufacturer was founded by Lei Jun, a self-described Steve Jobs admirer who often dresses the part in blue jeans and sneakers, and tries to model his managerial style after the late Apple founder. Xioami is attempting to increase its profitability by selling more high-end, high-margin phones in addition to its (mostly) mid-range lineup.
Barra’s departure from the division follows the exit of Android founder Andy Rubin, who stepped down in March to take on different projects at Google. Sundar Pichai, Rubin’s replacement, introduced the updated second-generation model of the Nexus 7 earlier this summer.
Here is Barra's full statement, posted to his Google+ page:
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 +Andy Rubin , +Hiroshi Lockheimer , +Sundar Pichai and +Vic Gundotra for their phenomenal support and mentorship over the years. +Android team, I will truly miss you all!
Thomas Halleck is a technology reporter for the International Business Times, covering Google, wearables, product reviews, gadget news and more....