Facebook moves Seattle office, continues growing

Puget Sound Business Journal - Emily Parkhurst

In two years, Facebook’s Seattle office has gone from two employees to 90. And it’s still growing.

Facebook’s largest office outside California just moved from a small office near Pike Place Market to a new space at 1730 Minor Ave., just below I-5.

The new office, which is on the 17th and 18th floors of the 19-story building, has a gorgeous 360-degree view of the city (and, on Thursday afternoon, the coming rainstorm).

For a slide show, click on the image above right.

Inside, you can literally write on Facebook's wall with colored markers.

Apple MacBooks with Facebook stickers on them are ubiquitous, very nearly attached to the engineers carrying them around, most of whom are also wearing Facebook T-shirts. Some were even nibbling cookies branded with Facebook logo icing.

While there are 90 Facebook employees in Seattle now, the company is hiring and can fit up to 170 people in the space.

“When we first decided to come to Seattle, it was an experiment,” said Facebook Vice President of Engineering Mike Schroepfer.

The experiment has taken off from 17 employees last year to 90 this year.

The first Seattle Facebook employee, software engineer Ari Steinberg, said he and several of the early Seattle employees broke company records with the number of interviews they did to hire new people to fill empty desks at the old office. Now they've developed their own versions of Facebook traditions, like going out to restaurants as a group every Wednesday, going skiing together and even spending a day outside getting some sun and playing schoolyard games — which, in California, Facebook does in April.

"In Seattle, you can't really do it in April," he said. "You can't get a sunburn here in April."

So, they do it in June.

In Seattle, engineers work on desktop applications and the iOS app, as well as video chat integration. But the engineers aren’t limited in what they work on based on where they’re located. Some engineers work on teams that are split between the company’s Menlo Park headquarters and the Seattle office.

Several members of Washington’s congressional delegation stopped by Thursday to show off their hipper sides, posing for photos next to Facebook engineers and thanking the company for opening an office in Seattle.

“The fact that this is the largest Facebook office outside California is tremendous,” said U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington.

Cantwell noted that Facebook adds to the city’s 18,250 technology industry jobs, something that has helped the area become a “technology leader.”

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., said social media is important to politicians, even if he wasn’t sure whether his photo had already been posted to Facebook or not.

“We understand an awful lot can be done with this technology and are really excited to see you here,” McDermott said.

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Chief of Staff Marty Loesch said his boss was disappointed she could not make it to Seattle for the event, but wanted everyone to know that she checks Facebook regularly to keep up with what her daughters are doing. He emphasized Facebook’s contribution to innovation within the technology industry.

“There’s a revolution going on, Facebook is leading it, you are designing it and Seattle is on the front lines,” Loesch said.