Google executive Hugo Barra poached by China's Xiaomi

By Dave Lee
Technology reporter, BBC News

image captionHugo Barra was the face of Google's Android platform

One of Google's top executives is leaving the company to join up-and-coming Chinese firm Xiaomi.

Hugo Barra was vice president of product management for Google's mobile platform Android, and had been at the company since 2008.

Google confirmed his departure from the company, stating that it wished him well.

"We'll miss him at Google and we're excited that he is staying within the Android ecosystem," a spokesman said.

Lucrative investments

Mr Barra took to social network Google+ to discuss his departure.

"After nearly five and a half years at Google and almost three 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," he wrote.

"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."

Xiaomi is a Beijing-based company that makes smartphones and other consumer electronics. They described the hiring of Mr Barra as "exciting news".

Since releasing its first handset in 2011, the company has enjoyed huge growth - now valued at $10bn (£6.5bn) thanks to two lucrative investment rounds.

Critics have accused the company of lacking in innovation and copying ideas from Western competitors.

Brin split

Mr Barra's departure coincides with reports Google's co-founder Sergey Brin is "living apart" from his wife.

News site All Things Digital wrote that Mr Brin was involved with a female Google employee who had previously had a relationship with Mr Barra.

A source told the BBC the departure was unrelated to personal issues, adding that Mr Barra had been discussing his move with Xiaomi for some time.

Mr Brin, who founded Google with Larry Page, married Anne Wojcicki in 2007. The couple have two children.

She is the chief executive of 23andMe, a biotech firm in which Google has invested $10m (£6.5m).

A spokesman for the couple told Reuters that "they remain good friends and partners" and have not yet legally separated.

Ms Wojcicki's sister, Susan, is also at Google as senior vice president in ads and commerce.

It was in Susan's garage that Mr Brin and Mr Page began their search empire, which is now worth more than $70bn, in 1998.

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

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