Dugan is departing after just 18 months to “lead a new endeavor.”
Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s secretive hardware lab called Building 8, is leaving the company after just 18 months.
Dugan’s departure was announced internally on Tuesday, and in a post she wrote that she’s leaving to “lead a new endeavor,” though she didn’t specify what. Dugan will stay at Facebook into early 2018, to ensure “a smooth transition,” she added.
It’s unclear who will take over Dugan’s role leading Building 8 on a day-to-day basis. Facebook recently promoted Andrew “Boz” Bosworth to run all of the company’s hardware projects, but that also includes Oculus hardware, not just Building 8.
“There is a tidal shift going on in Silicon Valley, and those of us in this industry have greater responsibilities than ever before,” Dugan said in a statement provided by a company spokesperson. “The timing feels right to step away and be purposeful about what’s next, thoughtful about new ways to contribute in times of disruption.”
Dugan made a big splash when she arrived at Facebook in early 2016. Not only did she join to run Facebook’s hardware efforts, which were totally new and garnered a commitment of hundreds of millions of dollars from the company, but Dugan has an impressive background.
Before joining Facebook, she led Google’s Advanced Technology and Products team, which built things like modular smartphones and clothes outfitted with micro-sensors. Before Google, Dugan was the director of DARPA, the special research lab that builds new technology for the U.S. military.
At Facebook, Dugan oversaw a number of hardware efforts, none of which have actually launched, including a video chat device and a smart speaker, according to Business Insider.
Dugan also lead the company’s “brain computer interface project,” a new type of technology meant to translate a person’s thoughts directly from their brain and onto a computer screen. Dugan unveiled the project onstage at Facebook’s annual developers conference in April.
Now she is leaving and it’s unclear whether or not her departure will affect any of Facebook’s existing projects. The Building 8 team is now “hundreds of people,” according to a Facebook spokesperson.
Update: Bosworth tweeted that Facebook’s mind translation technology project will “continue unchanged.”
That project will continue unchanged!
— Boz (@boztank) October 17, 2017
Here is Dugan’s full Facebook post.