Facebook to move to Stanford Research Park

Some employees may remain in downtown Palo Alto — neighborhood part of firm's 'DNA'

The Internet firm Facebook, headquartered in downtown Palo Alto with more than 600 employees at five offices, will move all or a substantial portion of its operations to a site at Stanford Research Park, the company confirmed Monday.

To accommodate its rapid growth the firm will move to 1601 California Ave. — a roughly eight-and-a-half-acre, 152,000-square-foot site — in the first quarter of 2009, Facebook spokesperson Debbie Frost said in e-mail statements.

Facebook will likely — but not definitely — retain office space downtown, to maintain room for employees that overflow even the new California Avenue site, according to Frost.

The new site is a former Hewlett-Packard (HP) building later occupied by HP's instruments-manufacturing spin-off, Agilent. The site is slated for eventual conversion to housing under a 2005 agreement between the city and Stanford University.

Facebook declined to state how long it would remain at the new site but said it is still looking for a major campus to house its growing operations.

The firm's reported target is 1,000 employees by year's end.

The social-networking company and website have ballooned in size since a 2004 move to downtown from founder Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard University dorm room.

Earlier, a couple dozen employees worked out of a single University Avenue office. Now, a swarm of mainly young hires wearing Facebook logo-gear fill downtown streets on their way to and from offices at 156 and 151 University Ave., 164 and 285 Hamilton Ave. and 500 Emerson St.

The company's growth follows the trajectory of its social-networking website.

Once confined to users at a handful of elite American universities, Facebook is now a public service accessed by more than 90 million people worldwide, according to the firm's website.

In e-mailed responses to questions, Frost declined to give details of which offices, if any, would be retained downtown, but stressed the firm's sentimental connection.

"We have loved our time in downtown Palo Alto and consider it part of the DNA here at Facebook. Many of our employees live in the area and will continue to be a part of the downtown community," according to her e-mail statement.

The move shouldn't hurt the downtown economy because other businesses will take Facebook's place, she stated.

"Palo Alto has been a great home for many start-ups and we are confident that with our move, other companies will occupy and thrive in the vacated spaces," she wrote.

The new office will allow the company to grow while keeping employees near one another.

"The motivation behind the move was the need to scale the organization while taking into account employee preferences to be located together as much as possible," according to Frost.

The announcement comes at a time of possibly waning investor enthusiasm for the firm.

BusinessWeek reported this month that Facebook executives have been selling their stock in the privately-held firm for prices far below the net $15 billion value projected after Microsoft's 2007 purchase of a tiny 1.6-percent slice of the company for $240 million.

The current stock sales prices imply Facebook is worth a third of that, or even as low as $3.75 billion, BusinessWeek wrote.

And technology analysts such as the blog TechCrunch have written that advertising on the website — once thought to be an obvious cash cow, given Facebook's ability to scan user profiles and match ads — may do a poor job of attracting customers.

Facebook is also facing a federal class-action lawsuit as of last week, with users alleging the site and advertising partners including Blockbuster and illegally spied on customers through the Beacon feature. The Beacon feature sparked outcry last winter when it automatically enrolled users without asking permission and sent information about purchases made on other websites, such as, to friends in their network.

Related stories:

Facebook rumored to be leaving downtown Palo Alto

Downtown gets boost from Facebook influx


Posted by jc, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 18, 2008 at 2:47 pm

now where can i go to watch a bunch of facebookies strolling about, proud of their accomplishments?

Posted by Recession or Depression!!, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 18, 2008 at 5:30 pm

This is going to leave a lot of empty office space Downtown. This will cause further recession Downtown. Watch as restaurants and retail slowly close.

Posted by Thomas, a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2008 at 5:47 pm

On the other hand it might be a boon to Cal Avenue.

Posted by Face Booked, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2008 at 11:27 pm

Man, she squeezed out Ben Ling...and now the building itself doesn't want to be around her! Zuck, she's making us miserable!!

Posted by Roger, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2008 at 3:45 pm

The 1601 CA Ave. bldg., is now going to be used by Facebook. Many of us have loved the place, It is a great use of the building that we all used to call H-P's Scientific Instruments Division. We made the planet's best gas chromatograph-mass spectrometers there from the early '70 on. Thanks Ned! Check the Agilent website, but do those readers even know?

I was a major exponent for this (GC/MS)cutting-edge chemical measurement technology world-wide all those years. It was very satisfying to be a missionary for our new products. It will be sad to eventually see the old Granger building be 'excessed', but, hey, 'Time Marches On!'


Posted by Too Much Traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2008 at 10:40 am

If restaurants and retail close in PA due to Facebook leaving downtown, that will be good--it will cut down on the traffic in town. In fact, Facebook should be encouraged to move to another city--that will mean less traffic also.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Dear "Too Much Traffic"
In Redwood City, we'd be glad to take Facebook -- and ALL of the stores/businesses on University Ave. -- off Palo Alto's hands. Then you can turn ALL of Palo Alto's restaurants and retail into MORE PARKS (definitely not housing).

Do PA residents like "Too Much Traffic" want to lose all that tax revenue from businesses, and drive to other towns for all goods and services (or will they bike?).

Many of Palo Alto's current traffic problems come from not allowing reasonable planning for normal traffic over the years. You've dead-ended/one-wayed the town into a mess.

Posted by Too much traffic blah blah blah, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 20, 2008 at 1:11 pm

Good riddance! Forget about Facebook and forget about technological innovation!

Those Facebook employees with their wallets full of disposable income should not be here in Palo Alto. They're causing too much traffic. Palo Alto should kick out one of the next Fortune 500 companies for the sake of reducing traffic. We don't need this tax generating company b/c they're causing too much traffic!

Too much traffic! blah blah blah...

^^ 'neighbor' you do realize the sarcasm right?

Posted by AuBonPain, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2008 at 6:37 pm

"The site is slated for eventual conversion to housing under a 2005 agreement between the city and Stanford University" - And yet more office/commercial space will fall to housing, driving companies into the waiting arms of our southern neighbors. Sad to see.

Posted by resident, a resident of Los Altos
on Aug 21, 2008 at 4:26 pm

this will have a negligible effect on downtown businesses and restaurants. FB doesn't pay their employees well enough to result in substantial spill over to the local vendors.

FB is a very "dense" tenant, so their departure may improve the parking situation downtown. other businesses that will rent the space FB vacates are going to more than replace the shortfall for local merchants, if any.

Posted by Roger M., a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 24, 2008 at 4:39 pm

Good Riddance! That will hopefully decrease the rental prices in Palo Alto...

Posted by Kerry, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 24, 2008 at 5:04 pm

This should be an interesting test case for all those College Terrace folks who complained about the Mayfield deal. Those who opposed it complained about too much traffic. They had become used to underutilized SRP properties. Well, they are about to get a full monty view of a highly utilized version.

I think they will, finally, come to their senses. The housing element of the Mayfield deal will look very good to them, by comparison.

Posted by sunil kasliwal, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:40 pm

This should be an interesting test case for all those College Terrace folks who complained about the Mayfield deal. Those who opposed it complained about too much traffic. They had become used to underutilized SRP properties. Well, they are about to get a full monty view of a highly utilized version.

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