Facebook is serious about becoming a long-term hardware player. On Wednesday, the company promoted Andrew Bosworth, the current head of its hardware division, which manufactures Oculus and other consumer devices, to the position of chief technology officer, succeeding outgoing CTO Mike Schroepfer, who will become a senior fellow next year.
Bosworth, also known as Boz, will continue to lead Facebook Reality Labs’ hardware group while also taking on responsibility for Facebook’s broader software engineering organization and artificial intelligence efforts in his new role. He will report directly to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has expressed a keen interest in the development of AR glasses and the metaverse.
Facebook is still a relative newcomer to selling consumer hardware, and given its long history of privacy scandals, potential customers are wary. Nonetheless, under Bosworth’s leadership, the company has significantly increased its hardware efforts in recent years. His Reality Labs team already has over 10,000 employees, making it the second largest after the engineering organization he is absorbing that supports Facebook’s suite of apps and infrastructure.
“As our next CTO, Boz will continue to lead Facebook Reality Labs and oversee our work in augmented reality, virtual reality, and more, and a few other groups will join Boz’s team as part of this transition,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “This is all part of our broader efforts to help build the metaverse, and I’m excited about the future of this work under Boz’s direction.”
Schroepfer, who has been CTO since 2013, stated on Facebook that he intends to remain “deeply connected to the company, working on key initiatives such as recruiting and developing technical talent.” He stated that stepping down next year will allow him to “dedicate more time to my family and personal philanthropic efforts.” According to a filing with the SEC, he notified Facebook of his resignation on September 20th.
The Oculus Quest VR headset, the Portal video chat device lineup, and its new camera-equipped smart glasses with Ray-Ban are among Facebook’s current hardware products. In addition, the company is working on AR glasses with displays, which Zuckerberg believes will one day be as commonplace as mobile phones. A smartwatch with a detachable display and two cameras is also in the works, with a release date as early as next year.
Bosworth has been with Facebook for over 15 years and is one of the company’s longest-serving executives. Prior to leading Reality Labs, he led the company’s advertising division and worked on the first versions of key Facebook features such as the News Feed, Messenger, and Groups.
He is an unusually outspoken Facebook executive, frequently engaging with critics directly on Twitter. A close confidant of Zuckerberg’s, he has faced backlash over the years for controversial remarks, such as a 2016 internal memo that stated unequivocally that connecting people was worth the cost, even if it meant someone died.