My visit to Facebook HQ

by jeffhilimire on November 2, 2010

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough (thanks PZig!) to get to tour and have lunch at the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. Having seen Twitter’s HQ a few months back, it was cool to see Facebook up-close and personal.

A few things really struck me about the place. First, Zuckerburg doesn’t have an office.  He sits right out in the middle of everyone.  I love seeing that.  I loved seeing it when I visited Twitter and it only reinforces my personal mission not to have an office again, ever.

In fact there are very few offices and just like in The Social Network, there is a conference room right in the middle of one of the main areas and I saw Zuck walking around in there, hoodie and all.

The level of talented developers walking around that place, or at least the feeling you get of that talent, is palpable.  From everything I hear in the Valley, its the place everyone wants to find a job at.

“Move fast and break something” is one of the many mantras posted on the walls in different places.  There are also conference rooms named after the countries which were named when Facebook passed those countries in population vs. users.

Everyone gets to designer their area however they way.  This includes the paint on the wall and floor.  You’ll see in one of the pictures below how creative the space looks when you allow people to do that.  Even though their individual work area isn’t very big, everyone has a sense of ownership that the space is theirs and theirs alone.

They have hackathons frequently where teams of people work all night on an idea and in the morning they have 90 seconds to present it to the company.  Some of these ideas become products on Facebook and some simply exist to promote teamwork and creativity.  Word is that Zuck still does this every now and again.

The cafeteria, which is phenomenal, provides different types of food all through the night during the hackathons.  And of course, free food all day with chefs and the works.

Below are a few of the photos I shot will there and you can see all my Facebook HQ photos here.

York candy at the front desk

Statements like this were all over the place

Everyone can decorate their area however they want (including painting!)

Another cafeteria shot, with the Facebook-style drink machine and cooler

  • http://welcometojmart.com/ Josh Martin

    Nice pictures, but I still like Twitter’s HQ better. Much more clean and organized, but that’s probably the OCD talking. :)

  • http://www.atlantajones.com Andrew Jones

    Everything you just described is EXACTLY everything that’s wrong with Facebook. “Move fast and break things”? I can’t believe they actually have a sign that says this, much less use it as a mantra. As a developer dealing with their “broken” system, that makes me physically ill. All that may make them sound like they’re this cool, rebel outfit, but at the end of the day, people depend on their stuff to just work. And now it’s clear to me why it doesn’t.

    Cool offices, conference rooms, cafeterias and chefs don’t make for a good product. The few talented folks they do have (and I have to believe they have a couple), would build stuff just as cool in a warehouse in the middle of nowhere.

    And it would probably work.

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    This is a great argument actually. I’d argue that Facebook wouldn’t be nearly the force it is today if they didn’t constantly innovate, break things, try again, get smarter, push bounds, etc. Their culture and why they’ve grown to the size they are is because of that.

    On the flip side, they have a platform that isn’t built to be sturdy and easily built on top of. But if it wasn’t for that instability, which got them to where they are, you probably wouldn’t be trying to develop on top of it ;)

  • http://twitter.com/asus78 Robert Wagner

    Cool, i am flying over to Mountain View next week to visit my high school friends from 94. Is there any chance i can take that tour as well?

    I come all the way from germany! :)

    Thanks

  • Penski

    How do you arrange a visit to Facebook HQ?  We are coming to American next Summer and would love to arrange a tour.
    Thanks Jane

  • Maria Carolina

    How do you arrange a visit to Facebook HQ?

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    Unfortunately the only way I know is to have a friend that works there. That’s how I did it. Good luck!

  • http://www.vladgorenshteyn.com Vlad Gorenshteyn

    I love “Move Fast & Break Things”…this is actually consistent with how children develop…would you say that’s true with yours?

    I’d say this is the fastest way to create a lot of value albeit not the best way to create a perfect product.

    Jeff, you gave me a great idea and made me remember that I have a few friends at Facebook that I need to visit…

    Thank you for posting pix.

    –my two cents

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