Xiaomi CEO Hugo Barra quit the company citing health reasons, and has plans to go back to Silicon Valley. Barra was one of the founders of Xiaomi. Barra’s exit comes at a time Xiaomi is trying to adjust its strategy. The company has pulled back from several overseas markets, including Singapore and Brazil, in 2016. It is increasing its offline retail presence and aims to develop artificial intelligence and internet finance as growth areas.
India was the one of the few bright spots on the company’s international growth map last year, and is also where Barra opted to make his final public appearance for the company during a launch event in New Delhi last Thursday. In a letter released to employees earlier this month, Xiaomi Chief Executive Officer Lei Jun said “the worst is over”, referring to the company’s recent struggles to keep up with an ever increasing number of local competitors.
“For Xiaomi to return strongly in 2017 the biggest priority is the China market,” says Nicole Peng, senior analyst at Canalys. Barra’s replacement, senior vice president Xiang Wang, will oversee the company’s global efforts going forward, a spokeswoman confirmed. Formerly the President of Qualcomm’s greater China operation, Xiang joined Xiaomi in 2015 to oversee strategic partnerships. “Given his international experience he’s a very safe pair of hands,” said Peng. “However they are very different types of persons and have a different type of leadership style.”
Xiang is has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Beijing Polytechnic University, and the Senior Vice President at Xiaomi. Xiang currently leads the Supply Chain and Intellectual Property divisions at Xiaomi. Before joining Xiaomi, Xiang worked for Qualcomm for 13 years from 2002 to 2015. At Qualcomm, Xiang served as VP of Qualcomm CDMA technologies, President of Qualcomm greater China and Senior VP of Qualcomm Incorporated. Prior to working for Qualcomm, Xiang was in key positions at Lucent/Agere and Motorola. He has more than twenty years experience in the semiconductor and communications industries.