As Facebook prepares for the release of its next wave of virtual reality (VR) headsets later this month, the company has begun reshuffling the core team at Oculus, with both Hugo Barra and Jason Rubin moving into new roles.
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
Previously at Xiaomi, Barra became head of Oculus after taking over from Brendan Iribe in 2017 and will now be transitioning into the role of VP for AR/VR Partnerships. Taking his place will be Eric Tseng who previously held the role of Director of AR/VR product management at Facebook.
When it comes to Jason Rubin – one of the longest-serving executives at Oculus – who was previously VP of Content and has seen a career co-founding Naughty Dog as well as the creation of Crash Bandicoot and Jax and Daxter, Rubin will now be VP Special Gaming Initiatives. His replacement will be Michael Verdu, previously senior VP at Electronic Arts, Chief Creative Officer at Zynga and co-founder of Legend Entertainment.
This continues Oculus’ assimilation into Facebook more as a brand than a separate company since the purchase in 2014. There have been numerous executive changes, the closure of Oculus Story Studios and the rebranding of Oculus Research into Facebook Reality Labs. The changes also demonstrate Facebook’s growing interest in augmented reality (AR), such as Barra’s new job title and some of the recent vacancies the company has published.
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
During the recent F8 2019 conference Facebook Reality Labs showcased its vision for a VR future with full body avatars, as well as the little matter of launching pre-orders for Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S which arrive worldwide on 21st May. 50+ titles have been revealed for the standalone headset, plus the device has been integrated into Oculus for Business.
How these changes will effect Oculus in the long term and what strategies Tseng and Verdu put into place remain to be seen, although, in a statement to Variety about Tseng, a Facebook spokesperson said: “Nothing changes with the Oculus brand or our product portfolio with these changes.”
As more information becomes available regarding Barra and Rubin’s new roles VRFocus will continue to keep you updated on future developments.