Head of Facebook’s secretive research lab to leave after just 18 months

18 Oct 2017

Regina Dugan speaking at TED2012. Image: TED Conference/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

After just 18 months, the head of Facebook’s Building 8, Regina Dugan, has left the company to pursue an unknown venture.

After revealing its intention to build a brain-computer interface at F8 earlier this year, Facebook’s Building 8 is to lose its chief, Regina Dugan, after just 18 months.

In a post to her Facebook page, Dugan announced that she would be leaving her role at the research lab early next year to lead a “new endeavour”, which as yet remains unknown.

“I will be working with leadership over the next several months to ensure Building 8 makes a smooth transition into 2018,” she said.

“This was a difficult decision for me. Together, we have already done so much good work. And there are many people that I will miss, personally and professionally.”

In a follow-up statement seen by Recode, Dugan added: “There is a tidal shift going on in Silicon Valley, and those of us in this industry have greater responsibilities than ever before.

“The timing feels right to step away and be purposeful about what’s next; thoughtful about new ways to contribute in times of disruption.”

With Dugan no longer having a long-term future at Facebook, questions were asked as to whether her main focus – the building of the brain-computer interface – would continue.

However, Facebook’s recently promoted Andrew Bosworth – now running all of the company’s hardware projects – confirmed in a tweet that the highly advanced project will continue on without her.

Dugan originally joined Facebook in 2016 to orchestrate the company’s growing hardware division, including the Oculus Rift.

Prior to this, she was one of the US’s leading figures in the world of advanced research, having worked as the director of DARPA, which develops technology for the US military.

Dugan was also a leading figure at Google where she oversaw the company’s own hardware division, the Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) group.

Regina Dugan speaking at TED2012. Image: TED Conference/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic