Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook Building 8 is leaving just after 18 months. Dugan acknowledged that the decision had not been an easy one to take, but after leaving Facebook, she would be “building and leading” a new endeavor in early 2018.
In a Facebook post, Dugan, a Googler before joining Facebook, said, “There is a tidal shift going on in Silicon Valley, and those of us in this industry have greater responsibilities than ever before.” She said the timing feels right to drift from the current role and look into “what’s next.” Before joining Google, she worked with the US research agency Darpa.
The exit is surprising because there have been reports that Facebook is working aggressively on its consumer hardware in the Building 8 division. Dugan, as the head of Facebook Building 8, detailed some of the company’s plans such as embeddable brain sensors during Facebook’s F8 conference this year.
Of the several projects discussed during the conference, one that caught the maximum limelight was the Silent Voice First. The project involves computers that are capable of reading the human mind. It could be a groundbreaking technology helping those who are physically challenged.
When asked about Regina Dugan, Chief Technology Officer Michael Schroepfer called it a “personal highlight” to work with her. Schroepfer said that Dugan had done an amazing job in building a team and the company will feel the positive impact of her work in the years to come, according to Bloomberg. She will work in close collaboration with the company to ensure the smooth transition in 2018.
Even though Regina Dugan is departing from the company on a healthy note, there are some hints to pick up from the timing. The celebrated employee is leaving the company just two months after Andrew Bosworth was made the head of consumer hardware efforts at Facebook, including Oculus VR and Facebook Building 8. Also, Building 8 has seen several key departures under Dugan’s short tenure, including the head of product management Olivier Bartholot, COO Richard Wooldridge, and head of consumer experience Donald Hicks, says Business Insider, citing people aware of the matter.
Currently, Facebook has about a 35% female workforce, and 28% of those are in senior leadership. Dugan was seen as one of the most influential female employees at Facebook after Sheryl Sandberg. The Social networking site has been working towards diversity among its ranks, and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg recently said that the company will add an African-American member to its board of directors. As of now, the company’s board is all white, including two women, one being Sandberg.
In a separate development, Facebook has acquired a teen-focused app tbh for less than $100 million. Facebook sees tbh as a positive app compared to competing apps such as YikYak, Secret and Sarahah. Tbh, which stands for ‘to be honest,’ could turn out to be the next big thing for Facebook as the company struggles to retain teens, who are more inclined towards apps such as Snapshot and Instagram.
On Tuesday, Facebook shares closed up 0.91% at $176.11. Year to date, the stock is up over 53%, while in the last one-year, it is up almost 38%.