In an interview with AllThingsD, Barra said that the opportunity to play a key role in the global expansion of the company dubbed ‘the Apple of China’ was one he could not resist.
“To me, right away, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, truly a dream job, this idea of building a global company which could be as significant as Google from the ground up,” said Barra. “It was just something that I will never come across, with a team whom I know, with a company that has DNA similar to my own and, on top of that, to live in Asia for at least some period of time” …
Despite a low profile outside China, Xiaomi is a $10B business. The company sold 7M devices last year and is expected to sell 20 million this year. Barra said that initial discussions with Xiaomi started last summer, when asking his advice on how the company might expand beyond China led to “Maybe you should come help us.”
Barra said that his departure from Google was an amicable one.
“It was an interesting three-way conversation,” he said. “But, I think it came down to, if you’re going to lose someone from the team, you might as well lose them to a friend.”
The full interview is worth reading.