Today at the Menlo Park City Hall, Facebook’s Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman announced that the company will move its corporate headquarters to the Silicon Valley suburb. He explained that Facebook was attracted to the Sun Microsystems campus, as well as support from the city government. Facebook will move all operations to the new campus over the next 12 months.
The campus is 57 acres, can seat 3,600 employees, and has 3,700 parking spaces. The purchase was a sale-leaseback with a 15 year long-term lease, with an option to purchase the campus after five years. There were no tax breaks included in the deal with Menlo Park.
Facebook also purchased the adjacent property owned by an affiliate of Ford Motors. The two properties are connected by an underground commuter tunnel, but Facebook has no plans to develop that property at this time. Facebook is sponsoring three fellows from the Environmental Defense Fund to help make the campus as friendly to the environment as possible.
Rich Klein, Mayor of Menlo Park, said that he’s excited to see if Facebook’s move will inspire other companies to come to the city. He also expects it to boost the local economy as Facebook employees travel offsite for food and other amenities. Public debate will begin in March, possibly in a town hall format, to discuss how the move will impact taxes, spending, traffic, schools, and local business.
Ebersman said that having all the local employees working in the same space promotes sharing and innovation, and that this was no longer possible in its separated Palo Alto offices. When asked how employees are reacting to the announcement, he told us that they are “excited to get back together in one place” after being split between offices.
Employees might not be as excited about the location, though. The area is less developed than Palo Alto’s El Camino Real and California Avenue districts, so employees will have to travel greater distances to get off-site food. This could lead to an increased reliance on the Facebook cafeteria, which in turn could lead employees to spend more time at their desks.
One of the draws of moving to Menlo Park was supposedly to allow more employees to commute without using cars. However, the closest train stop is an 11 minute ride away in one of Facebook’s shuttle buses or a 16 minute bike ride — roughly twice the distance from a train as the Palo Alto offices. For those visiting the campus from San Francisco via public transportation, the trip will take 1.5 hours across multiple buses and underground trains. The could therefore push more people to drive to Facebook, especially considering its ample parking.
Facebook has been rapidly expanding its facilities across the country and internationally, as well as in Silicon Valley. In December it leased two floors with up to 150,000 square feet at 335 Madison Avenue in New York City. That space could accommodate up to 600 people. It has begun construction on a data center in Forest City, North Carolina, and another in Prineville, Oregon that will use advanced energy saving technologies to reduce Facebook’s footprint. Facebook also announced a 500-person office in Hyderabad, India.
Ebersman stated that Facebook’s employee base is growing at 50% a year, and it has 2,000 employees, 1,400 of which currently work in Palo Alto. This means if current growth continues, and the percentage of employees who work in the Bay holds steady, Facebook may need to begin developing the Ford Motors property in as little as three years.