How Twitter Is Outmaneuvering Facebook To Pick Up New York's Top Engineering Talent

facebook new york office 8

Photo: Ellis Hamburger, Business Insider

Facebook moved into a new office near Grand Central Terminal in New York a short while ago.Twitter moved into Facebook’s old office — which is right across the street from Facebook’s newer office — just last year.

If you look out one of the windows, you can see the other.

A rivalry is emerging in New York between Twitter and Facebook, which are both trying to pick up the city’s top engineering talent.

In some ways, Twitter is outmaneuvering Facebook in New York in its new engineer hiring rivalry. It’s taking more chances and acting more aggressively when attempting to hire good engineers.

Twitter has around 15 engineers in its New York office and it plans to double the size of its roughly 30-person team (including sales and operations) in New York by the end of the year.

So far, it seems to be working.

“Why didn’t he call Twitter?”
One Twitter employee was out to lunch one day and heard a friend had applied to Facebook.

“Do you have his phone number?” the employee asked. “Why didn’t he call Twitter?”

It’s not the only tactic Twitter has pulled to outmaneuver Facebook as part of its guerrilla strategy.

Twitter, a much more nimble startup, is able to take more chances and offer more equity than its much larger competitor for talent.

Instead of having a few thousand employees, Twitter has around 900. Instead of nearing its IPO, Twitter is still new enough that there’s equity for potential employees.

And Facebook also prefers to have its employees in Menlo Park. But some engineers really want to live in New York.

That’s why Google has a New York office.

A few years ago, Facebook was vying for a New York-based startup with Twitter called Julpan.

Facebook wanted to move them to Menlo Park, while Twitter offered to host them in New York.

The startup opted to join Twitter’s staff in New York because many employees wanted to stay in New York. Now Facebook is ramping up its engineering hiring efforts in New York.

Twitter NYC

Photo: Elizabeth Weil

Fighting the banks — and GoogleThere is a lot of engineering talent in New York, but tech companies have to compete with huge banks and financial firms that offer hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries.

If you want to make money, you’ll usually go to a bank, most engineers in New York will tell you.

But startups and tech companies have the “fun” vibe going for them.

In New York, it’s all about which problem you want to solve — maps (Google), music streaming (Spotify), live-blogging (Twitter) or social networking (Facebook).

Google employs more than a thousand engineers — most of which are in both Facebook’s and Twitter’s sights.

Google also has the chronic problem of treating its satellite employees like “red-headed step children.” Many former Google employees will tell you that’s how they felt if they were in an office outside of Mountain View.

Twitter’s New York office is close to its San Francisco leadership, and the company flies its top employees out to the Bay Area frequently. They’re all in close touch with each other through Campfire, a company-wide chat room.

It feels much more like a startup and is much more nimble. And it’s pretty attractive to engineers and startups looking to be acquired by Twitter.

Both Facebook and Twitter did not comment on the story.

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