- AllThingsD/Asa Mathat
Regina Dugan is leaving her position as the head of Facebook’s fledgling consumer-hardware lab, Building 8, raising questions about the company’s plans for ambitious initiatives like brain-reading technology and augmented-reality glasses.
Dugan said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that she was leaving to “focus on building and leading a new endeavor,” though she didn’t specify further.
Dugan joined Facebook 18 months ago from Google’s advanced-projects division, which she famously described as a “band of pirates trying to do epic sh–.” The move was celebrated at the time as a major coup for Facebook and a sign that the social network was getting serious about building hardware that would compete with Google, Amazon, and Apple.
Building 8 has yet to release a product, but the division is working on an unannounced video-chat device for the home code-named “Aloha” and expected to be released in May, Business Insider previously reported.
Building 8 has also teased more-futuristic work on brain-scanning technology that would allow people to type with their thoughts.
A Facebook spokesperson told BI that Bosworth would continue to lead Oculus and Building 8 but declined to say whether the company would seek a replacement for Dugan.
Hints of disagreements
Dugan’s time at the helm of Building 8 has not been smooth.
The group has seen several key departures in its short history, including its COO, Richard Wooldridge, its head of consumer experience, Donald Hicks, and its head of product management, Olivier Bartholot, according to people familiar with the matter.
Facebook recently put one of its most seasoned executives, Andrew Bosworth, in charge of all its hardware efforts, including Oculus VR and Building 8 – a move aimed at unifying its multipronged efforts to build gadgets for consumers.
In a statement on Monday announcing her departure, Dugan hinted at potential disagreements with Facebook. The two-billion-member social network has been under scrutiny for its role in spreading fake news and Russian propaganda during the 2016 US presidential election.
Dugan said there was a “tidal shift” in Silicon Valley and that “those of us in this industry have greater responsibilities than ever before.”
“The timing feels right to step away and be purposeful about what’s next, thoughtful about new ways to contribute in times of disruption,” she said.
In her Facebook post on Tuesday, Dugan said she would leave Facebook and Building 8 in early 2018 to ensure “a smooth transition.”