Facebook is holding a special event this afternoon at its office in New York City. The event is a little strange, in that Facebook only sent invites out this morning — which may be because it will feature U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The event will also include Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and VP of Engineering Mike Schroepfer.
Facebook hasn’t given any indication as to what to expect, but I’m guessing it has something to do with expanding its presence in New York, particularly around engineering given Schroepfer’s attendance. Its current NYC office has a handful of engineers, but is dominated by employees on the sales side. I’ll be updating this post as the event unfolds. You can also watch the event right here
Update: Yep, Facebook is indeed opening an engineering-focused office early next year, to be headed by long-time Facebook engineering manager Serkan Piantino. The company isn’t saying how many engineers it will be hiring, but that it will take all the top talent it can get. This is major news for both the company and the NYC tech scene. See my live notes from the event below.
2:20 PM EST — Sandberg has stepped up to the podium to discuss the importance of opening up an office in NYC, and why engineering how been so important to the company.
2:25 PM EST — Schroepfer has now taken the stage. Facebook expanded to Seattle recently, and the team there was key to building video chat and various tools. The company asked, “Where else can we go to find the smartest, most entrepreneurial engineers in the world. And we realized the best by a large margin would be NYC. It has huge momentum toward entrepreneurial engineering and building deep technology. This won’t just be a satellite office, it will be a core part of our engineering staff.”
2:27 PM EST — Next up is long-time Facebook engineering manager Serkan Piantino, who will be heading the new engineering office. Piantino has led Facebook’s New Feed for years, and also was responsible for leading Facebook’s Timeline project. He’s now responsible for managing the teams that run Messaging and Chat.
2:33 PM EST — Mayor Bloomberg has taken the stage, discussing the things the city has done to try to foster growth in the NYC tech scene.
2:37 PM EST: Senator Schumer is discussing how Facebook has changed the world. “This is a red-letter day for New York. The Mayor and I along with so many others have wanted to see NY grow. And one thing we need to help NYC become IT capital of the world, is engineering. And the fact that Facebook is coming here, says that we have turned the corner. NYC has always been great with other things in social media.. but now that Facebook is coming here with engineers, it says a whole lot about us.
It’s a smart move on Facebook’s part. The company will have competition for engineering — including the financial sector, Google (which has a large office in NYC) and the growing startup scene. But it shouldn’t have any trouble attracting top talent, as it still has its valuable pre-IPO stock to give out. In the longer term, it’s also good news for the New York tech scene as a whole.
Yes, Facebook will probably suck up a lot of talent that may have otherwise joined or launched a startup, but in the coming years these Facebook engineers will be looking to start their own companies (and many of them may well become angel investors, too). It may also increase the number of NYC-based companies that are acquisition targets for Facebook. And it will obviously help boost the prestige of NYC as an engineering hub, which will help attract more engineering talent as well.
From the release:
To keep up with its rapid growth, Facebook today announced plans to establish an engineering presence in New York City and tap into the remarkable technical talent that the region has to offer. The Facebook NYC engineering office, the company’s first outside the West Coast, will open in early 2012 and will begin accepting applications immediately.
“More than 800 million people around the world rely on Facebook, and more than half of them visit every day. Operating at such a large scale, and innovating as quickly as we do, we need to recruit the most talented engineers in the world,” said Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s Vice President of Engineering. “New York has a strong history of innovation and is home to thousands of talented technical people, and we want them to help us solve the challenges of designing and building the next generation of Facebook,” he added.
“Building an engineering presence outside the West Coast is a big step for us, one we would take only if we found the right combination of talent and community support,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer. “We’re particularly grateful for the encouragement and assistance of New York’s elected leaders, who understand what it takes to build a climate where technology can fuel economic growth and the creation of high skilled jobs,” she added.