The former head of DARPA, who was running Google's Advanced Technology and Products group, will now lead Facebook's new hardware group, Building 8.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

April 14, 2016

3 Min Read
<p style="text-align:left">Mike Schroepfer, Regina Dugan, and Mark Zuckerberg</p>

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iPad Pro 9.7 May Be Apple's Best Tablet Yet

iPad Pro 9.7 May Be Apple's Best Tablet Yet (Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Facebook has hired Regina Dugan away from Google in a recruitment win that reflects the power of Facebook's gravity and the challenge Google faces to retain top talent.

Dugan, who previously served as a director of the US military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, had been running the Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) group at Alphabet's Google, where she oversaw initiatives like Project Tango, Project Ara, and Project Jacquard.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement in an online post, noting that Dugan will lead a new group called Building 8 that will focus on creating hardware products related to Facebook's mission to connect the world. He said Facebook will be investing hundreds of millions of dollars into this effort over the next few years.

"I'm excited to have Regina apply DARPA-style breakthrough development at the intersection of science and products to our mission," Zuckerberg said. "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."

Facebook offered a glimpse of the technology it has been developing at its F8 developer conference this week. On Tuesday, the company showed off its solar-powered drone, Aquila, which will remain in the air for months at a time to provide wireless Internet connectivity to underserved areas.

On Wednesday, it presented two wireless transmission systems, Terragraph and Project ARIES (Antenna Radio Integration for Efficiency in Spectrum), designed to make wireless networking faster, more efficient, and more affordable.

The company has also spearheaded initiatives like the Open Compute Project, the Telecom Infra Project, and its Surround 360 panoramic camera.

Zuckerberg outlined a 10-year roadmap for the company, stating that Facebook's goal is "to give everyone the power to share anything with anyone."

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About three times as many Facebook employees -- 1,506, compared to 559 -- formerly worked at Google than vice versa, according to LinkedIn searches. While such data is anecdotal, and based on self-reported employment histories for those with LinkedIn accounts, the talent war between Facebook and Google has been widely reported in recent years. Documents that emerged in the Silicon Valley wage-fixing case involving Google and its peers revealed that Google instituted a policy in 2007 to make counteroffers to employees recruited by Facebook.

Beyond Dugan, other notable employees who came to Facebook from Google include Sheryl Sandberg, Frank Lawrence, Damian Burns, Gary Briggs, Erick Tseng, and Mary Lou Jepsen, not to mention chef Josef Desimone.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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