Facebook moving headquarters to Menlo Park | News | Palo Alto Online |


Facebook moving headquarters to Menlo Park

Social-networking giant to move into former Sun/Oracle campus

In order for all area residents to have important local information on the coronavirus health emergency, Palo Alto Online has lifted its pay meter and is providing unlimited access to its website. We need your support to continue our important work. Please join your neighbors and become a subscribing member today.

Facebook's plan to shift headquarters from Palo Alto to Menlo Park has possibly been the worst-kept secret of the past month. Now the social-networking giant has confirmed that the former Sun/Oracle campus will be its new home.

John Tenanes, Facebook's real estate director, said the company leased back the 1-million-square-foot, 11-building campus from real estate investment management firm RREEF. About a third of the campus will continue to host Oracle employees for up to a year, Tenanes said. Sources familiar with the deal said RREEF paid about $100 million.

"It's a great (lease) structure, in terms of rent," Tenanes said. "We don't have to write one big check."

He cited Menlo Park's central location and proximity to Palo Alto, where many of its employees live, as two factors that set it apart from other sites Facebook considered along the Peninsula.

Recently valued at $50 billion, thanks to investments by Goldman Sachs and others in anticipation of a public stock offering, Facebook has exploded since founder Mark Zuckerberg started the company in 2004. Its assessed business personal property value skyrocketed to $63.4 million by the end of 2009, according to Santa Clara County tax records, and there are more active users on Facebook than there are people in the United States.

The Facebook explosion explains why the company also bought two lots on Constitution Drive near the Sun campus in December. It was too good a deal to pass up, according to Tenanes, who described the buildings as a "safety valve" if the company needs even more elbow room before its new 15-year lease on the Sun campus expires.

Those lots, along with the 57-acre Sun campus, give Facebook enough space for 6,100 employees. The company said it currently has about 2,000 employees worldwide.

But there's more than space behind Facebook's buying spree: A tunnel under the Bayfront Expressway already links the 22-acre Constitution Drive lots to the Sun campus, Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline explained.

Those three parcels originally belonged to Raychem, which planned to open adjoining east and west Menlo Park campuses. Facebook has now resurrected that vision, according to city staff.

Critics decried Facebook's lack of sales tax and property tax revenue, but proponents suggest the potential benefits outweigh instant cash prospects.

Comparing Facebook to Cisco in San Jose and Apple in Cupertino, Cline said, "Facebook's level of brand brings immediate marketability, and that brings investment. The potential for the Belle Haven neighborhood should not be overlooked. We've been waiting forever for those opportunities."

The company might face community opposition on two fronts: traffic and housing. According to Cline, Facebook is scouting other sites to potentially build homes for its employees.

As for traffic, Tenanes said about 42 percent of Facebook's employees don't drive to work, instead relying on shuttles, car pools and public transit, and they want to increase that number.

The company also hopes to work with Menlo Park to open businesses such as dry cleaning or coffee shops on campus, although it will keep the two employee cafeterias already located there. "We're excited to work with Menlo Park, they're excited about it. I think it's going to be a great partnership," Tenanes said.

Menlo Park will host a design charette March 5 so residents can share their visions of what could be done with the remaining space on the Facebook properties.

"(Facebook) may see a need for more growth, they may need more offices. There's potential housing and potential retail. It would be nice to have retail that services the whole community," Cline said. "Belle Haven needs their own services that they can walk to."

Cline found the timing of Facebook's move interesting in light of the governor's proposal to shut down redevelopment agencies across the state, since the Belle Haven neighborhood lies within the city's redevelopment boundary.

"This goes to the heart of helping people that aren't in the upper economic classes. They need support," Cline said. "This is an opportunity perhaps for us to do this, or be able to have other ways to think about the area."

There remain walls to knock down -- Facebook intends to keep its 'no cubicle' work environment -- and permits to sign, but if all goes smoothly, the company plans to move the first 500 employees to Menlo Park by mid-June. The rest should arrive by the end of the year.

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?


Like this comment
Posted by nimby
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2011 at 10:19 am

Good job College Terrace NIMBYs for kicking the anti-social company out of town. We don't need their tax money and employee patronage of local businesses.

Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 8, 2011 at 11:12 am

What happens when another social network overtakes Facebook, like it did to Myspace.
People get bored and want something new. Will it be in 4 to 7 years when there saying "Facebook who"?

Like this comment
Posted by MJ
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2011 at 11:38 am

Dear Nimby,

Sorry to spoil your whining about College Terrace. The bad news for you is that the Facebook lease on California Avenue is short term. Stanford has an agreement with Palo Alto to tear the building down and put housing there. Facebook knew the building was going to be torn down in a few years when they took on the lease. Buying the Sun/Oracle campus is perfect timing for Facebook. This gives Facebook time to refurbish the new site and coordinate the move with the expiration of their California Avenue lease.

And if College Terrace is so inhospitable to Facebook, according to you, why has MZ been living in College Terrace all this time?

Like this comment
Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2011 at 11:49 am

If this adds more demand and support for the Menlo Park real estate and rental markets, it is a welcome move. Now if they would just start hiring beyond the twenty-something market it could really have an impact on the area.

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm

In addition to MJ comments understand that the property tax ,of which the city gets only a small portion, will be paid by the property owner regardless of the occupancy status.

Like this comment
Posted by nimby
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm

MZ rents a house a block away from FB so he can walk to work. How much do you want to bet that he is already looking for a new place somewhere else? Shows you how desperate he is to leave when he chose a new work site with no housing within easy walking distance.

And corporations pay property tax on all their property, not just real estate (equipment, vehicles, furnishings, etc). There was an article here last month about how many millions of dollars per year this amounts to.

Like this comment
Posted by Megan
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm

So sad. It was great having Facebook in our neighborhood. Livened up California Ave no end.

Like this comment
Posted by roundabouts
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 9, 2011 at 9:15 am

Congrats CT residents, you've done it again!

Like this comment
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 9, 2011 at 9:32 am

Will the unofficial name of the building be changed? It's been known as Sun Quentin for years.

Like this comment
Posted by Too much traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2011 at 9:34 am

Now that College Terrace has gotten rid of Facebook, they can focus on the important issues facing their neighborhood---a city-subsidized replacement for JJ&F, more traffic calming, more permit parking. After all, the quality of life for College Terrace should be the most important issue facing Palo Alto today.
Boy if they could only get rid of that pesky Stanford campus next door!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Stanford shill
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 9, 2011 at 11:03 am

Maybe Facebook will buy Caltrain passes for their employees. That is the bulk of Stanford's accommodation package to the city in exchange for their new building permits, right?

Like this comment
Posted by Too much traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2011 at 11:24 am

Stanford shill--Wrong. perhaps you should read the story from a few weeks ago:

Web Link:

"Negotiations between Stanford and the city began to accelerate in June, when the hospital offered the city $124 million in benefits, including new bike lanes, an expanded shuttle service, Caltrain Go Passes for all hospital employees and $23.1 million to support the city's affordable-housing programs. City officials are hoping to complete negotiations in the spring.
On Tuesday (Jan. 18), Stanford announced that it has upped its offer by $49 million — to $173 million. The additions include $12 million to support Palo Alto's efforts to combat climate change and encourage renewable energy, an accelerated payment schedule and an offer to pay $1.1 million if Stanford's expanded facilities end up costing the city more money than they generate."

"Stanford's new package includes $126 million for programs relating to traffic reduction, including $91 million to pay for Caltrain Go Passes for all hospital employees. "

Do the math, stanford shill, you can see how many million Stanford is giving to the city. BTW, Stanford does more than any employer to mitigate traffic issues. Check out what percentage of Stanford employees use public transportation, car pools, bikes etc.

Too bad Palo Alto does not make the same demands of every employer in town in order to combat our mythical traffic problem. I guess College Terrace and Palo Alto can never be satisfied.

Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Give it up, nimby. These whiners about alleged whiners in College Terrace are much more interested in whining than dealing with facts and reality.

Like this comment
Posted by Ada
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Sorry to see yet another great company move out of Palo Alto. Net-net I believe it is a big loss to Palo Alto community.

1 person likes this
Posted by roundabouts
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 9, 2011 at 2:34 pm

That's right, Paul. Because we never hear any whining from College Terrace residents!


Like this comment
Posted by Col
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 9, 2011 at 7:00 pm

This is a non-event IMO. Facebook had to leave their current HQ building anyhow by 2013 for the Hanover redevelopment project. There will still be plenty of interesting people walking the streets of Palo Alto. Life goes on, the earth keeps spinning, yada yada yada.

Like this comment
Posted by are your parked on ECR?
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 9, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Wait a minute? All those Stanfod employees parking on ECR where the used cars for sale used to be? What, they get a stipend from Stanfood to not park on campus so there's no SC county "excessive parking" penalty for Stanfood's rampant development plans, and they hop on the Marguerite?
Whatever happened to the so called "public transit from Caltrain and Samtrans/VTA stations"? Scam what am.
FBooks gonna pull the same on Menlo, "Friends" will drive rents up in Belle Haven short term, driving working people out,, but the real FBookers
will hang in downtown PA and motor over to Sun Quentin when they find the Dumb Art bridge from Fremont is a no go.
Question is, will FBook fade like MySpace as yet another flash in the spam? Unless they can sell advert space, they're short lived at best. Wait until the next gen "SpaceBook" LOL, blows doors off FBook!!
Hello, Menlo, can't you get Fergie the Brownie Act violater to shed some 44D, not good for the local economy.

Like this comment
Posted by BP Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2011 at 10:31 am

Sorry to see Facebook leave Palo Alto. I was just walking my dog on California Avenue the other day when I passed Facebook. I actually felt proud to live in this place. I wanted to bring my kids to see that Facebook was here.

Then, I remembered that Facebook was leaving. We had something special but people complained about all kinds of stupid nonsense, instead of working hard to make the Facebook people feel welcome. Facebook picked Palo Alto first, they tried so hard to make it work, but we blew it (again).

Like this comment
Posted by mj
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm


When Facebook moved into the California Avenue building they signed a short term lease. Facebook only planned to be in the building for a few years. They have to move.

The building is going to be torn down by Stanford no later than 2013. Part of an agreement between Stanford and the city to build housing there in exchange for being allowed to build more office space elsewhere in the Research Park.

You must not have been living here for more than a few years or you would know that we are about to have quite a dense housing development at the top of California Avenue in a few years.

In any case, Facebook obviously wanted to purchase office space, not lease.

Like this comment
Posted by Facebook Family
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm


There are quite a few Facebook families (including mine) living in College Terrace, and it is disappointing to have a neighbor express such animosity towards the people who work at the company (ahem... animosity towards US). I'm fairly certain you'd resent anyone being successful or being in those buildings, but please remember that we all need jobs & the companies that surround our neighborhood often employ those who live here.

Before you start complaining about our value as neighbors (which I am sure you would), please note that the company hires people of all ages with all sorts of interests. We know all the Facebookers who live in CT - across the board, they are all mature adults who take care of their homes and respect their neighbors. Would you prefer students to live here to working professionals?

And... *gasp* we may just stay here after the company moves... so quit being such a sourpuss.

Like this comment
Posted by Sourpuss
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 19, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Wow that facebook woman was really clueless. I think nimby was being sarcastic. btw - more students would be great. They party and many of them are aware that they have flaws.

Like this comment
Posted by Cella
a resident of another community
on Mar 10, 2011 at 6:23 pm

MySpace is totally dead. It's a joke. Facebook is a joke and it's only a matter of time before they go the same route. It's all about the almighty dollar. Sooner or later, most likely sooner than later from this point forward, Facebook will only be the dust in our wind.

Enjoy it while you can!

Like this comment
Posted by Viv
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm

All moderately important things must come to and end:(

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Get fact-based reporting on the COVID-19 crisis sent to your inbox daily.

Coronavirus Food Safety Update + New! Insider Tips
By Laura Stec | 7 comments | 5,086 views

A Pragmatic Approach to A Trillion Trees
By Sherry Listgarten | 4 comments | 3,964 views

Singapore's oldest cafe was about to open in Palo Alto. Then, the coronavirus hit.
By Elena Kadvany | 1 comment | 2,833 views

Repairing a Disagreement with your Beloved & “Physical” vs. “Social” Distancing
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 2,660 views

The University of California’s flexible policies during COVID-19
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 6 comments | 2,614 views



The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 10, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

Contest Details