August 28, 2008
Facebook to Move in Early 2009
By Will Oremus
By Will Oremus
The vacant facility at 1601 California Ave. is considered a stopgap until the social networking firm finds space for a permanent campus. Although it's large enough to house all of Facebook's more than 600 employees, the company plans to retain some of its downtown office space in case of overflow.
"The motivation behind the move was the need to scale our organization while taking into account employee preferences to be located together as much as possible," spokeswoman Malorie Lucich said via e-mail. "The move is the best solution to limiting our continued fragmentation in Palo Alto."
She added, "We have loved our time in downtown Palo Alto and consider it part of the DNA here at Facebook. Many of our employees live in the area and will continue to be a part of the downtown community."
Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard University dorm room, Facebook moved to a small office in downtown Palo Alto in June of that year and has since exploded into one of the world's most heavily trafficked Web sites.In April, it passed MySpace to become the world's most popular social networking site, according to the market research service comScore.
As the company has grown, it has added new offices piecemeal and is now spread across five buildings: 151 and 156 University Ave., 164 and 285 Hamilton Ave. and 500 Emerson St. Facebook's young employees, many of them graduates of nearby Stanford University, zip between the buildings and frequent downtown cafes and bars in off hours.
For months, however, the consensus has been that Facebook would eventually need to consolidate its operations, a plan the company confirmed in June. At the time, several Palo Alto sources told the Daily News they had heard the Stanford Research Park was a possibility.
The California Avenue site is one of several on which Stanford University has agreed to build housing when its long-term leases expire, said Steve Emslie, acting city manager of Palo Alto. Nothing in the agreement precludes a company such as Facebook from subletting the property in the meantime, he added.
Lucich said the short-term move "positions us well to continue looking for a long-term campus solution." She declined to discuss the company's criteria for such a home or whether it might be found in Palo Alto.
Sherry Bijan, president of the Palo Alto Downtown Business Improvement District, said she'll miss having Facebook around.
"They bring a vibrancy to downtown," she said. "I'm sorry to see them go, but I understand that they have to."
Meanwhile, Bijan said she hopes the company finds subletters for any downtown offices where its holds a long-term lease. She's confident there will be plenty of interest in the property, possibly from younger start-ups.
"What I'm hoping they won't do is just let places sit vacant because they can afford to."
E-mail Will Oremus at [email protected]-- February 2004: Mark Zuckerberg and co-founders Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes launch Facebook from their Harvard dorm room June 2004. After expanding from Harvard to Stanford, Columbia and Yale, Facebook moves its headquarters to Palo Alto
1 1 million active users by Dec. 2004-- May 2005: With $12.7 million in venture capital from Accel Partners, Facebook grows to support more than 800 college networks-- September 2005: Facebook expands to include high school networks
1 5 million users by Dec. 2005-- September 2006: "News feed" feature sparks privacy concerns; relaunched with additional user controls-- September 2006: Facebook opens registration to public at large
1 12 million users by Dec. 2006-- May 2007: Facebook development platform launches with more than 85 applications-- October 2007: Microsoft takes $240 million stake in Facebook
1 50 million users by Oct. 2007-- February 2008: Facebook settles with former rival ConnectU, which had charged Zuckerberg stole its ideas and code while a student at Harvard April 2008-- Facebook passes MySpace as world's busiest social networking site, according to comScore-- August 2008: Facebook announces it will move its headquarters from downtown Palo Alto to offices in the Stanford Research Park
1 90 million users as of Aug. 2008
SOURCES: Facebook and news reports
Originally published by Will Oremus, Palo Alto Daily News.
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