Facebook just poached a key Google executive who used to work for DARPA

Regina dugan
Regina Dugan AllThingsD/Asa Mathat

Facebook has hired Regina Dugan, who previously headed up Google’s Advanced Technologies and Projects Group, the company announced on Wednesday.

At Facebook, Dugan will lead a new skunkworks group called Building 8, which is dedicated to building experimental hardware, although Facebook is staying fairly quiet on details.

Facebook explained its new experimental division in a statement provided to Business Insider:

As part of Facebook’s 10 year roadmap, Facebook is launching “Building 8,” a new group that will combine research and product development to help make the world more open and connected — focusing on technologies that fluidly blend physical and digital worlds. To lead this effort, Facebook has hired Regina Dugan, a proven leader with a long track record of building teams that deliver breakthroughs in research and product development.

Dugan provided a personal statement to the Verge and Wired:

I am sad to leave the pirates of ATAP. Each of our efforts to create new, seemingly impossible products, has been faced with intense challenges along the way. Technical challenges. Organizational challenges. Challenges that might have broken lesser teams. This is the type of work we signed up for when we built ATAP. It is terrifying because it means we have to face our fear of failure, stare it down, more days than most. So be it.

Before heading to Google, Dugan was the director of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, more commonly known as DARPA. She worked on longshot projects like Google’s modular smartphone, Project Ara, and tried to implement a engineering culture that focused on rapid prototyping.

But recently, Google has been implementing fiscal discipline since it hired a new CFO, and Facebook is just starting its “moonshot era,” and funding projects like drones that fly for weeks and transmit data with lasers.

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