Facebook Boston Looks to Build Tech for the “Next Few Billion Users”

5/22/14Follow @gthuang

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is “focusing on hiring technical leadership—the first couple people on projects to drive the effort.”

The local office is also home to Ed Smith, Facebook’s tech lead for HHVM (HipHop Virtual Machine), an open-source system for running programs written in PHP and Facebook’s own programming language, Hack. As Mack puts it, “HHVM is one of the biggest levers for improving efficiency of the site. And Hack is a way to improve the efficiency of engineers.”

Some casual trolling on LinkedIn reveals a few more Facebook Boston employees: recruiter Abby Rose and software engineer Jessica Lin, among others.

Mack makes a point of saying the Boston outpost won’t be marginalized—a common issue with big tech companies. Instead, his team seems to be taking ownership of major projects in the company. “We are building infrastructure here in Boston,” he says. “We’re not [just] a remote office.”

Is there anything unique about its culture? “Boston is a great town for families,” Mack says. “We’ve been pushing for a lot of family-oriented [activities] at the office.”

The local team has been involved in Olin College’s senior capstone projects this spring, and has been active on big campuses like Harvard and MIT, Mack says. In addition to recruiting, Facebook Boston is taking part in meet-ups on programming languages like PHP and Python, distributed databases, and other topics. And just last week, Facebook expanded one of its startup outreach programs, called FbStart, which now targets mobile developers worldwide—including Boston.

“We’re excited to be part of a really fast-growing community,” Mack says of the local innovation scene.

Asked whether he thinks the Boston area will produce another consumer-tech company as big as Facebook—and keep it here—he is unequivocal in his response. “I don’t see why not,” he says. “I’m impressed by the startups I see. It’s just a matter of time.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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