Facebook Seattle Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

By David Cohen Comment

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Facebook opened its Seattle office in August 2010, and it marked its five-year anniversary by highlighting three key projects that were spawned in that office.

Eva Skone, Facebook Seattle’s lead for culture, communications and events, wrote in an engineering blog post that Seattle is now the social network’s largest engineering center outside of its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., recently topping 500 employees, and she added that the move to a new office in Dexter Station, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, is set for early next year.

Skone wrote:

A key reason behind our growth is the office culture—Seattle is not a traditional satellite office. From the day we opened our doors in 2010, we’ve maintained small teams (typically five engineers each), which has kept the entrepreneurial spirit alive. While the teams are small, the office collectively makes significant contributions to major areas and products in Facebook—including infrastructure, ads, platform, Messenger, News Feed, search, videos, groups and Oculus VR. Our goal is to create a culture where engineers are encouraged to innovate and create new technologies that advance and influence the industry.

We have also found time for a bit of fun and team-building work. We regularly host hackathons, customizing them to meet the needs of our team. Those have included a culture-focused hackathon at the Space Needle, diversity-focused hackathons for LGBTQ youth and students of color and weeklong hackathon camps to create new products. The Faceversary balloon hack, for example, came out of a Facebook-hosted hackathon event; the tool automatically orders balloons for employees on their employment anniversary with the company. Everyone in the Seattle office appreciates this feature—when they show up to the office on their anniversary, their gift is waiting for them.

She also highlighted three “project milestones” that originated in Seattle—video calling, the social network’s cold-storage system and For Sale Groups:

  • Video calling (2011): This was the first project that came out of the Seattle office, about nine months after it opened. At first, the video calling team consisted of one engineer—the same engineer who had the idea to build the product in the first place. The project required a variety of skill sets, ranging from back end and Web front end to client OS experience. The resulting product introduced a way for people on Facebook to instantly call any friend or family member, anywhere in the world. Messenger also recently introduced video calling, enabling face-to-face conversations through the application for the 700 million people who use it.
  • Cold-storage system (2014): Cold storage is the deep memory that’s used to store and preserve photos and videos in a sustainable, efficient way. Four engineers initiated this project to make sure that people’s #tbt photos from years ago would be just as accessible as the latest popular cat memes while using less storage space and power. The project launched in March 2013 and rolled into production in January 2014. This is the fastest-growing storage service in Facebook to date, and it manages hundreds of petabytes of data.
  • For Sale Groups (2015): Facebook groups provides a place for millions of communities, teams, families and other groups of people to communicate, plan and collaborate—including helping buyers and sellers connect with each other. For Sale Groups takes that connection a step further by facilitating commerce activity. The skill sets used for the successful creation of For Sale Groups included many layers, ranging from front-end programming to mobile (iOS, Android and search).

Readers: Did you know these important contributions came out of Facebook’s Seattle office?

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