Yesterday I visited the new Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The overwhelming size and engineering excellence demanded an article by itself. Henceforth, I’m continuing to write about my visit to the “classic” Facebook buildings.
When we left off, we were waiting for the Gold Shuttle to take us across the freeway to the former Sun Microsystems HQ – which is now home to Facebook. This is the original Facebook complex, and still contains much of the heart of the company.
The shuttle picked us up outside one of the lobbies and then took us through an underpass and across to the old complex. It’s a short trip, and other options are to walk or to ride one of the many hundreds of light blue “Fbikes” located around the place.
Once at our destination – building 12 – we walked past a number of electric cars being refuelled, and couldn’t help but marvel at the hundreds of cars surrounding the buildings. It was a sea of vehicles of different shapes, sizes and expense. Clearly driving is a very popular mode of transport for Facebook staff, and very likely most of the rest of Silicon Valley.
We are briefly checked by security at the door to the building, then are checked again once inside the massive steel doors. The staff are polite and courteous, obviously no strangers to visitors making their way through the giant Facebook facilities. I note that the interior of the building follows a similar design and aesthetic to the new building, without the massive open office feeling.
We pass through to the inner area, past a branch of a bank which undoubtedly caters to the financial needs of many Facebook employees. Once outside, returning to the charm of a sunny Californian blue sky day, attention is drawn immediately to the expansiveness surrounding us. The place is huge, and stretches away from us in two directions. We start walking north(ish) away from the freeway walking along a road which evokes comparisons to Disneyland’s “Main Street USA”, but with a very obvious nod in the direction of tech folk rather than children.
The road is tree lined and clean, along each side is a number of cafes, shops and other facilities behind which sits the many different offices. What struck me as particularly interesting is how the place has been designed with very different building architectures in mind; many buildings jutting out with different colour schemes and decoration – very individual and creative.
We passed Mark Zuckerberg’s old office which is on the ground floor, floor to ceiling glass and protected by a series of bollards. Just beyond his old office, on the right is a popular coffee location – Philz Coffee, and as we pass a small contingent of people head inside, presumably for a meeting.
Food options abound as we head further north. On one corner, a Mexican restaurant is clearly visible and looks quite inviting. We continued onwards though to see just how far the road leads. It’s still very green and quiet as we begin to reach the end, there’s a sign warning about foxes and a small statue of one stalking near a tree. Towards the end of the expansive thoroughfare we’re standing in front of a burger joint, and a very loud building which turns out to be an arcade centre.
Our escort tells us that many of the machines are the property of staff who have generously provided them for common use. We enter and find it very low lit, there’s only one person inside playing a game, so we hop onto some pinball machines for a few free rounds. Exiting, we walk a bit further up to admire the geeky and distinctive writing on the wall of the burger place. With not much left to discover, we turn around and head back to building 12.
Our last stop is a bit of an icon for Facebook pilgrims, it is the massive Facebook sign outside the original buildings. On the reverse side of the massive billboard sized sign is the remains of a former glory. On the freeway fronting side, a new home for social media. It’d be considered rude not to pose, right?
We walk back to the new building and from here, I observe another huge stack of light blue bikes and I wonder why more places don’t invest in this simple and effective mode of transport.
Sadly this is where the tour ends. Unfortunately I completely forgot about the Facebook store – I suppose I will have to save that for another visit at another time. I was looking forward to the possibility of maybe being able to buy a Facebook hoodie!
We bid adieu to our very amicable escort, and make our way back to the car, underneath the massive new Facebook HQ building. It was a very enjoyable visit, and the Facebook buildings – old and new – are very impressive. It would be quite interesting to have an opportunity at some point to return, perhaps in more of a business context, to see what working at Facebook is like in action.
For now though, I am off to Toronto, Canada to attend the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. You can expect to see a lot of new posts in the coming days. Wish me luck!