Regina Dugan, Vice President of Engineering at Facebook's moonshot factory Building 8 decided to leave the company after spending only a year and a half with the social media giant. Ms. Dugan announced her departure from Facebook on Tuesday, noting that she'll stay with the firm for the next several months in order to facilitate its transition to a new leadership. No specific time frames have been provided by the 54-year-old who served as the 19th Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the United States Department of Defense, but the wording of her statement suggests that she'll officially leave Facebook by early 2018.
In a Facebook post announcing the latest turn of events, Ms. Dugan labeled her departure as "a difficult decision" and said she'll miss working with the teams she's now set to leave behind. She didn't cite any particular reason which prompted her to make another career change so soon after leaving Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) unit to join Facebook in April 2016. Starting early next year, Ms. Dugan will be fully committed to creating and heading "a new endeavor," according to her statement which doesn't elaborate on the matter. Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said he'll miss working with her in response to the announcement, with that sentiment being mimicked by the company's Virtual Reality VP Hugo Barra, with both directors praising her leadership abilities and vision. The Menlo Park, California-based company has yet to comment on the matter in an official capacity and it remains to be seen how quickly will the firm be able to find a direct replacement for Ms. Dugan.
The loss of a seasoned innovator and industry veteran may be a blow to Facebook's hardware and general technology endeavors which so far entailed unconventional creations like a thought-to-text platform and a supposed smart speaker that's said to be designed as a larger iteration of Amazon's Echo Show. No projects initiated by Ms. Dugan are likely to be discontinued directly because of her departure but their future will presumably depend on her replacement who's expected to re-evaluate their viability. In a subsequent statement from a Facebook spokesperson, the company's departing executive attributed her decision to "a tidal shift" in the Silicon Valley that she believes put more responsibility on her to contribute to the disruptive tech that's presently emerging. That very comment indicates that Ms. Dugan perhaps felt her contributions to the tech industry and society as a whole aren't significant enough in the context of Facebook and hints that she's now seeking to pursue technologies that have a larger potential to change people's everyday lives like self-driving vehicles do.