Facebook has hired Rich Heley, most recently VP product technology at Tesla, to work on hardware at its new Building 8 research lab.
Heley will report to Regina Dugan, a former Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and DARPA executive hired by Facebook in April to lead Building 8. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the hire Wednesday, but declined to comment further.
Heley joined Tesla in 2013. He was named vice president, products in April, 2015, reporting to CEO Elon Musk, according to his LinkedIn profile. Heley was responsible for new vehicle programs and upgrades.
Prior to Tesla, he led engineering, manufacturing and supply chain for Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), 2003-2013.
Facebook launched its Building 8 initiative, headed by Dugan, in April. The project is focused on "new hardware products to advance our mission of connecting the world," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time. Building 8 will partner with universities and businesses of all sizes, with "clear objectives of shipping products at scale," investing "hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars into this effort over the next few years," the Facebook boss said. (See Facebook Snatches Ex-DARPA Head From Google.)
Building 8 will work on Facebook's ten-year roadmap for augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, connectivity and other areas.
Facebook is aiming to reduce costs and increase networking efficiency, part of its effort to bring the Internet to more people, both to improve lives and to feed Facebook's own growth. Facebook has pioneered open source data center and networking technologies, through its work as co-founder of the Open Compute Project and elsewhere. It says it's not looking to compete with telcos and other service providers, but rather provide them tools to bring more people online.
Also on Wednesday, Facebook introduced Open Cellular, an open source wireless access platform to bring mobile internet service to underserved communities around the world at lower cost. (See Facebook's 'OpenCellular' Aims to Make Mobile Networks Cheaper to Build.)
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— Mitch Wagner, , Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.