This morning in a press conference at Menlo Park city hall, Facebook detailed its plans for a big new headquarters in the city.
Facebook CFO David Ebersman explained that the company has been looking for new space since 2009, when its old Palo Alto space started to get crowded. The company looked at several sites before deciding on the million-square-foot Sun Microsystems campus.
The campus is in an industrial part of town with few amenities — a sharp contrast with the current location near downtown Palo Alto. But Ebersman said that Facebook would be renovating the campus to make it a fun place to work, focusing on an outdoor courtyard that connects the nine buildings. Eventually, Facebook and the city of Menlo Park hope that other businesses will follow, creating a sort of “borough” on the far side of highway 101, the main road through Silicon Valley.
Facebook had about 2,000 employees at the end of 2010, and has been growing at a rate of about 50% per year. It expects that growth rate to continue if business is good, which would put headcount at 3,000 by the end of next year. The Sun campus has space for 3,700 seats today, but Facebook thinks it could hold more with a clever redesign. But just in case, the company also bought an adjacent property from General Motors, which has 400,000 more square feet to expand into.
One possible stumbling block might be community debates about traffic. Menlo Park mayor Richard Klein warned that his city “likes a fight,” and he expects there to be a lot of heated discussion about how to handle the influx of new cars near the campus. Facebook has commute programs in place for employees, but the new campus is a bit more isolated than the current location, which could be complicated for bus lines and bike riders.
The renovations are starting now, and the move should be completed no later than 2012. Here are a few mockup sketches that Facebook passed along.