20 Product: Hugo Barra on Lessons Building Hardware Products at Android, Xiaomi, Oculus, and Detect; Feature Kings vs. Budget Kings; 996 Work Culture in China; There Are No MVPs in Hardware; The 3.5-Hour Recruiting Interview

Posted on 9th November 2022 by Harry

Hugo Barra is one of the OGs of consumer hardware of the last decade. In Hugo’s current position, he is the CEO @ Detect, building tools that empower people to understand their health and make informed, timely decisions. Before Detect, Hugo spent an incredible 4 years as VP of VR @ Meta with Oculus. Prior to Oculus, Hugo was in China as VP of Global @ Xiaomi, the 3rd largest phone maker in the world. Finally before Xiaomi, Hugo was a product leader @ Google for over 5 years including as VP of Android Product Management.

In Today’s Episode with Hugo Barra We Discuss:

1.) Entry into Product:

  • How did Hugo make his way from Brazil to Silicon Valley and Beijing Product OG?
  • What is one takeaway from Google, Meta, and Xiaomi that influenced the way Hugo approaches product today?
  • What is 996 Chinese work culture? How does the experience of working and leading teams in China impact his approach to team building today?

2.) The Secret to Success in Hardware:

  • Why is hardware so much harder than software? What are the main differences?
  • What are the biggest challenges faced when building V1 and V2 in hardware? How much do you rely on data vs gut and intuition?
  • What are some of Hugo’s biggest consumer product hardware failures? What did he learn from them?

3.) Feature King vs Budget King:

  • Previously Hugo has said, “in the beginning, there is only two types of consumers.” What does he mean by this? How does that impact his approach to product building?
  • Can a budget king product leader also be an amazing feature king leader? What is the difference in the two? Why is it harder to be a budget king product leader?
  • What happens if you have both budget king and feature king in one product? What happens then?

4.) Product Management 101:

  • How does Hugo define product management today? What does it really mean to Hugo?
  • Gustav @ Spotify has said before, “details are not details, they are the product.” How does Hugo think about this statement in terms of great product management today?
  • When do product orgs start to break down? What are the catalysts? What can be done to stop this?

5.) Brand Marketing vs Product Marketing:

  • What is the difference between product and brand marketing?
  • Why does Hugo believe you should always start every product build with the press release? What is the difference between good and great in a press release? What do the best have?
  • What are the single biggest mistakes founders and product leaders make in storytelling today?

6.) Masterclass in Hiring:

  • Why does Hugo do 3-and-a-half-hour interviews when hiring new candidates?
  • What are the benefits of their being so long? What does he want to achieve?
  • What core questions does he ask every time? What differentiates good from great?
  • How does he get people to really open up and show true vulnerability?

Items Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

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