Just in: Facebook names a new CTO with a major focus on hardware

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Facebook is committed to being a long-term hardware player. Andrew Bosworth, the current head of the company’s hardware division, which develops Oculus and other consumer devices, was elevated to chief technology officer on Wednesday, succeeding outgoing CTO Mike Schroepfer, who will become a senior fellow next year.

Bosworth, who goes by the nickname Boz, will continue to run the hardware group, Facebook Reality Labs, while also overseeing Facebook’s broader software engineering organization and artificial intelligence activities in his new post. He’ll report directly to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is passionate about AR glasses and the metaverse.

Given its lengthy history of privacy concerns, Facebook is still a relative novice to selling consumer hardware, and it confronts a lot of suspicion from potential buyers. Even so, under Bosworth’s leadership, the company has greatly increased its hardware efforts in recent years. After the engineering organization he’s subsuming that powers Facebook’s portfolio of apps and infrastructure, his Reality Labs team already has over 10,000 personnel, making it the largest after that.

“As our next CTO, Boz will continue to manage Facebook Reality Labs and oversee our work in augmented reality, virtual reality, and more,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “As part of this transition, a few other groups will join Boz’s team as well,” he added. “This is all-important to our larger efforts to help develop the metaverse, and I’m looking forward to the work’s future under Boz’s leadership.”

In a Facebook post, Schroepfer, who has been CTO since 2013, said he expects to continue “deeply linked to the company, working on essential priorities such as hiring and nurturing technical talent.” He claims that stepping down next year will allow him to devote more time to his family and personal charity endeavors. According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he notified Facebook of his resignation on September 20th.

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The Oculus Quest VR headset, the Portal video chat device array, and Facebook’s new camera-equipped smart glasses with Ray-Ban are among the company’s current hardware offerings. In addition, the business is working on AR glasses with displays, which Zuckerberg believes will one day be as common as cellphones. I recently reported that a smartwatch with a detachable display and two cameras is in the works for next year.

Bosworth has been with Facebook for nearly 15 years and is one of the company’s longest-serving executives. Prior to leading Reality Labs, he was the head of the company’s advertising group and worked on early versions of important Facebook products such as the News Feed, Messenger, and Groups.

He’s an outspoken Facebook executive who frequently engages detractors directly on Twitter. He has received backlash over the years for inflammatory comments, such as a 2016 internal memo that stated frankly that connecting people was worth the cost, even if it resulted in someone dying.

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