On April 25, 2023, Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook, made a strategic hire by recruiting Jean Boufarhat, a top chip executive from Microsoft. Boufarhat will take the reins of Meta’s Facebook Agile Silicon Team (FAST), succeeding Ofer Shacham, who moved to Israel a year ago but had continued managing the team remotely. This move comes as Meta is reevaluating its silicon strategy, which could potentially lead to further job cuts.
The push to develop custom chips for hardware devices is part of Meta’s broader effort to reduce its dependence on third-party chip suppliers like Intel and Qualcomm. Designing its own chips allows Meta to enhance integration between its hardware and software, improve performance, and lower costs. The company has already developed custom chips for its Oculus virtual reality headsets and Portal smart displays.
Boufarhat’s extensive experience in silicon engineering at Microsoft will be a valuable asset for Meta’s chip development ambitions. Microsoft has also been working on custom chips for its Surface devices and Azure cloud services. The appointment of Boufarhat is part of Meta’s ongoing initiative to attract top talent from the semiconductor industry.
Before joining Meta, Boufarhat held the position of Corporate Vice President of Silicon Engineering at Microsoft, where he played a crucial role in advancing the company’s in-house capabilities and working with partners on custom development projects serving Microsoft’s cloud products. Prior to Microsoft, Boufarhat served as Senior Vice President of Silicon Engineering at Synaptics Incorporated, where he was responsible for driving product development execution, engineering efficiency, and scaling for mobile, IoT, automotive, and PC markets.
With Boufarhat at the helm of FAST, Meta’s custom chip development is set to enter a new phase, potentially reshaping the company’s hardware and software integration and setting the stage for further innovation.