Digital health hires and departures: Pai named FCC chair, Barra leaves Xiaomi

By Heather Mack
04:16 pm
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Ajit Pai has been named chairman of the Federal Communications Commission raising speculation that many rules and regulations enacted under the Obama administration will be axed, the Hill reports.  Pai, who has long been in favor of deregulation on things like net neutrality and other consumer protection regulations, was the senior republican on the FCC since 2012. He was the associate general counsel for Verizon from 2001 to 2003, then served as counsel for the US Senate Judiciary Committee and the US Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy.

On his FCC bio, Pai outlines his regulatory philosophy as one that embraces competition rather than “preemptive regulation,” and believes the free market delivers more value to consumers than highly regulated ones. In a speech following Trump’s election, he said he intended to “remove outdated and unnecessary regulations,” as “we need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation and job creation.”

Hugo Barra has left Chinese electronics company Xiaomi for Facebook, where he will serve as the Vice President of Virtual Reality for Oculus. Barra caused a bit of media stir in 2013 when he joined Xiaomi from Google’s Android team, and he subsequently had considerable success in expanding Xioami’s footprint beyond China with affordable smartphones and tablets. In 2014, Xiaomi launched a $13 and activity-tracking wearable, MiBand, in stark contrast to the $50 and $200 price points for similar devices in the US. In June of 2016, the company launched the MiBand 2 for $23, which, just like its predecessors, was not available in the US.

In a statement to the Verge, Barra cited homesickness as his reason for leaving Xiaomi, saying, “"What I've realized is that the last few years of living in such a singular environment have taken a huge toll on my life and started affecting my health. My friends, what I consider to be my home, and my life are back in Silicon Valley, which is also much closer to my family. Seeing how much I've left behind these past few years, it is clear to me that the time has come to return."

However, it’s important to that the company also hasn’t been doing so well as of late, with declining sales and market share numbers.

Healthcare information technology company Zelis Healthcare has hired Patrick O’Keefe as their new chief commercial officer. In this new role, O’Keefe will be responsible for leading sales, account management and commercial operations for Zelis. Previously, O’Keefe was general manager of Anthem/Empire BlueCross Blue Shield, and also served as northeast region mergers and acquisitions partner for Digital Insurance and the National Practice leader for UnitedHealth Group.  

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