Regina Dugan once worked as the director for the secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) before moving to Google to lead the Advanced Technology and Products group. Now she’s moving on to Facebook where she will head Facebook’s new group called Building 8 which will look to connect more and more people to the Internet.
Facebook announces new initiative, Dugan will head it up
Dugan is no stranger to unconventional technologies. You can’t head up DARPA without out-of-the-box thinking. This is a group that tried to train soldiers to kill goats by staring at them and recently announced prizes for hobbyists and engineers to essentially weaponized their homes and giving the group a list of conventional materials that could be used to strike at United States military targets and interests.
This is why Google went after Dugan and made here the director of the Advanced Technology and Products group. Now she’s moving to Facebook, which has recently announced its plans for a group called Building 8. That group will focus on building hardware that uses Facebook’s software and other existing products as well as products in development we know nothing about yet.
Zuckerberg announced both the formation of Building 8 and the hire of Dugan in a recent blog post.
“This method is characterized by aggressive, fixed timelines, extensive use of partnerships with universities, small and large businesses, and clear objectives for shipping products at scale,” he wrote. “We’ll be investing hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars into this effort over time.”
“I’m excited to have Regina apply Darpa-style breakthrough development at the intersection of science and products to our mission,” Zuckerberg added speaking to her time at Department of Defense’s unconventional branch. “This method is characterized by aggressive, fixed timelines, extensive use of partnerships with universities, small and large businesses, and clear objectives for shipping products at scale.”
“She is going to be building things that are mission aligned,” Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Emily Chang. “Everything we do here is to connect the world. She’ll be doing a bunch of new things you haven’t seen from us, that maybe like Oculus will be a little confusing in the beginning, in terms of how you put the pieces together, but it will all come together in terms of our mission.”
“Today is a bittersweet day for me,” Dugan wrote on her Facebook page. “I am on the one hand, tremendously excited. Building 8 is an opportunity to do what I love most…On the other hand, I am sad to leave the pirates of ATAP.”
What Dugan did at Google with the pirates
Dugan worked on a number of projects at Google with her group falling somewhere between short-term product development groups and the forward thinking, “down the road” highly-secretive X division that includes projects like Loon and others.
Under Dugan, ATAP worked on the Tango Project that developed mobile devices capable of real-time 3D-mapping, fabrics woven with electronics, as well as security issues.
ATAP came out of Google’s acquisition of Motorola, which it then divested itself of in a short period of time. While Google got rid of Motorola, it kept ATAP a group whose purpose was described by Dugan in 2002. The group is tasked to “build a small, lean, skunk-works-like group that is not afraid of failure.”
While her work at DARPA made her ideal for this position withing Alphabet’s Google, she seems genuinely giddy about joining Zuckerberg at Facebook. .
“Building 8 is an opportunity to do what I love most… tech infused with a sense of our humanity,” Dugan wrote in a Facebook post. “There is much to build at Facebook.”
Google will clearly miss her brain and vision not to mention her public profile for ATAP’s projects.
“We thank Regina Dugan for all her leadership and contributions as part of the Advanced Technology and Projects group, and wish her the very best,” Google said in a statement.
Facebook, Google and the future
To simply call Google a search engine giant, or Facebook a social media site no longer works. Both companies have become so much more. With the money available to each, neither seem to be close to content to rest on their laurels or simply cash checks based on existing revenue streams.
Both companies want to deliver the future, and the fact that each has now hired the former DARPA director is proof of both company’s commitments to be bigger and better than the core businesses that are responsible for their early and continued success.