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Cloud Strategies

Facebook Snatches Ex-DARPA Head From Google

Facebook hired Regina Dugan, most recently head of Google's Advanced Technology and Projects Group and former head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to lead the new "Building 8," focused on "new hardware products to advance our mission of connecting the world," Mark Zuckerberg said this week.

Building 8 will partner with universities and businesses of all sizes, with "clear objectives for shipping products at scale," Zuckerberg said in an update Wednesday. That's a contrast with groups like Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Research and -- in the past -- Xerox PARC, which often build prototypes and proofs of concept without bringing them to market.

"We'll be investing hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars into this effort over the next few years," Zuckerberg says. He anticipates "breakthroughs on our ten-year roadmap in augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, connectivity and other important areas."

Building 8 Head
Regina Dugan
Regina Dugan

In her own Facebook post, Dugan says:

Today is a bittersweet day for me.

I am on the one hand, tremendously excited. Building 8 is an opportunity to do what I love most... tech infused with a sense of our humanity. Audacious science delivered at scale in products that feel almost magic. A little badass. And beautiful. There is much to build at Facebook… and the mission is human… compelling.

On the other hand, I am sad to leave the pirates of ATAP.

And she finishes off with a poem from Victor Hugo about perseverance.

At this week's F8 Developer Conference, Google unveiled several technology initiatives that seemingly fit in Building 8's mission. These include two projects for extending wireless Internet: Terragraph, a project to build networks of nodes that combine WiFi and small cells; and the ARIES Massive MIMO radio antenna for rural areas. (See Facebook Debuts Terragraph & ARIES to Extend Wireless.)

Facebook also introduced a 3D video camera for recording scenes for playback in virtual reality. (See Why Gigabit Broadband? Facebook Answers, Why Gigabit Broadband? Facebook Answers, and Facebook Launches 3D Video Capture: Surround 360.)

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— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading.

danielcawrey 4/16/2016 | 2:12:18 PM
Re: Don't go there! I think there's certainly a less academic approach to R&D at technology companies today. While I'm sure the management at these companies wants to foster a culture of trying things, the reality is Facebook and Google and Apple must hit on some of these projects in development.
Mitch Wagner 4/15/2016 | 9:11:27 AM
Re: Don't go there! Motel 6, Studio 54, M*A*S*H 4077....
iainmorris 4/15/2016 | 5:47:45 AM
Re: Don't go there! Yes, Building 8 sounds like something you'd find next to Area 51.
PaulERainford 4/15/2016 | 5:16:08 AM
Don't go there! Is it just me or does 'Building 8' sound a bit sinister? I'm thinking 'Room 101' or 'Stalag 17'. I'm worried for Regina.
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