During our trip to the west coast, we went on a guided tour of Facebook, at their campus in Menlo Park, CA. Our tour guide was the estimable manager of their internal customer support, Joe Schneider.
It’s a fascinating place. The buildings surround a common courtyard of such size that bicycles are provided to grab and go. The average age appears to be about 25, or quite a bit younger than us. Of their 6,000 employees, about half are engineers. The campus reeks of technical capability.
For a young person coming out of college, it’s hard to envision a better place to work. There is a team structure there, and engineers are highly empowered. I saw the slogan “Fail Hard” displayed, and this sums up the work atmosphere. They can move extremely quickly, and have a new code release EVERY DAY. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available, at a variety of restaurants. We ate dinner there, and the food was excellent. There are jokes about the ‘Facebook 15’, as in the pounds that one tends to gain there by having such high quality free food.
Facebook struck us as a company that can do just about anything that they put their mind to technically, it’s just a matter of them doing the right things. We saw CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a desk, working on a PC like any other engineer. No one has an office there, and this seems to help build a highly collaborative atmosphere.
They have a very selective interview process that focuses on finding people that will fit in there. As the company matures and grows, it’s always a challenge to keep that level of selectivity. But at present, they seem to be hiring a whole bunch of people with larger brains than smallbizsalesforce.com.
It’s a very impressive company, and their technical capabilities will allow them to make a few mistakes, but still be able to capitalize on the times when they get it right.