Facebook will lease its first San Francisco office, for Instagram

Facebook is finally getting office space in San Francisco, and is currently considering several different locations, one of which will house up to 100 Instagram employees, an industry source familiar with the lease plan confirmed to TechCrunch.

Earlier today, The Registry reported Facebook is in talks for a space at 181 Fremont in the South of Market district — a 70-story tower that won’t open until early next year. Our source confirmed this is one of the buildings Facebook is choosing from, though there are other options it’s looking at and no lease has been signed yet.

Instagram has a giant light-up logo in front of its current Menlo Park office. Image by Vocino

Facebook is considering this a “test” or “pilot” of San Francisco office space, our source said, so don’t expect it to suddenly relocate its massive Menlo Park headquarters from Silicon Valley up to the city. Facebook has offices in 68 cities around the world, yet has had to resort to holding SF meetings at its PR company OutCast’s offices.

Having an SF office could help Instagram’s recruiting effort because employees who live in the city wouldn’t have to endure the hour-plus shuttle ride to Instagram’s current Menlo Park headquarter’s that’s a mile from the main Facebook campus. Traffic has grown worse and worse in the Bay Area as startups flock to the region, giving companies located in SF a recruiting edge by being able to dangle a short subway ride, Uber or walk to work.

Instagram’s Menlo Park office features elaborate photo backdrops. Image via CarinaJXT

Many employees at Facebook and Instagram I’ve spoken to loathe the commute, and some who have left for companies in the city like Uber or Twitter cite the shorter commute as a big draw. For younger, more extroverted tech workers, living in San Francisco offers a much more culturally rich experience than the hollow hills and office parks of the South Bay.

Only a portion of Instagram’s 500 employees would fit in the new SF space, and our source didn’t know which team or projects would be centered there. But if Instagram does see its recruitment improve thanks to the office in SF, Facebook might consider expanding this “pilot” with more offices there. You can expect plenty of jockeying between Instagram employees for those few SF desks.