Facebook officials confirmed Tuesday that they will move all their Bay Area employees to new headquarters at the old Sun Microsystems campus in Menlo Park and that the change may happen as early as June.
This highly anticipated announcement took place at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Menlo Park’s , which soon turned balmy from the dozens of reporters and citizens that packed almost every seat in the space.
David Ebersman, Facebook’s chief financial officer, said the 57-acre campus was chosen for its ideal location in relation to where many of the company’s employees live.
“We didn’t want to disrupt their current commute patterns,” Ebersman said.
With 3,700 parking spaces on the campus, it is unclear whether all will eventually be used. Facebook employed about 2,000 employees at the end of last year, with two-thirds of those living in the Bay Area, Ebersman said. The company is increasing its headcount by about 50 percent a year.
The plan is to move all operations over the next 12 months to Menlo Park.
“We’re also retaining our Palo Alto office facilities, since we have leases through the end of 2013," Ebersman said, noting that he was not prepared to discuss whether renewing that would be an attractive opportunity for the company.
Ebersman did elaborate on the environmental concerns that had been presented in the past. He described the transportation methods commonly used by Facebook employees at length, highlighting the fact that they use van pools, CalTrain, buses and bikes to get to work. He said he hopes that the move to Menlo Park will enhance that, instead of inspiring people to get into their cars and drive to work.
Menlo Park Environmental Quality Commissioner Mitch Slomiak said he was quite intrigued with what was said about the company’s transportation demand management. Ebersman said that 40 percent of Facebook employees use alternative forms of transportation, and he wants that to increase to 50 percent.
“I want to know how they did that,” Slomiak said. “I know that half of Menlo’s greenhouse gas emissions are from transportation, such as people from out of town using the freeway, and here’s a business that will be on a major freeway.”
Slomiak put the goal into perspective by citing the Menlo Gateway project’s transportation management goals, which would shoot for the “edge of the envelope” at 17 percent. He went on to express the desire to see the company do more for the environment.
“I would hope that Facebook, whether out of a simple concern for their bottom line or a deep concern for the environment, will take a look at the buildings that have been there for a decade, retrofit them and reduce emissions from the operations of their building," Slomiak said.
Menlo Park Mayor Richard Cline also spoke enthusiastically at the event about the company’s move into the Belle Haven neighborhood of town, focusing on how the company would transform the economic sector. Cline said that the residential community of Belle Haven will benefit immensely from the global company’s move.
“This is a once-in-a-life time opportunity for our community," Cline said. “There are many companies that would find it promising to locate near Facebook, so there’s long-term potential for Menlo Park to benefit from Facebook.”
Cline plans to create opportunities for community members to talk about the planning of the area, although specific dates for these meetings have not been set.
City Manager Glen Rojas echoed Cline’s positive attitude about how this move would attract high-end businesses and high-tech companies into the Willow business area.
When asked about whether the city had discussed the impact to Bedwell Bayfront Park, Rojas said, “One of the things that Facebook said was positive about the campus was that there was a bike trail in front of it. They want to get connected to the bike network that goes north, by Bedwell Bayfront Park, and all the way south through Palo Alto."
The idea that Menlo Park will have Facebook in its community instead of Palo Alto’s was discussed in positive terms. Cline noted that he had had many conversations with city staff and former Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt about regional issues, such as this relocation and its effect on the businesses in the community.
“The water rises and falls together in these communities when you’re this close together," Cline said.
The new office is about six miles away from the Palo Alto office.
Cline said this move while retaining Belle Haven’s unique cultural identity. You can read more about how this move will impact the community in terms of tax revenue in
When asked if there were any plans to integrate the bike trail in front of the campus into the , a Facebook spokesperson said, “We look forward to working with the community on recommendations for the public areas surrounding the campus, but it’s too early to get into specifics.”