Facebook Seattle: Past 30 Hires and Growing, Adding Heft to Chat Overhaul, Running Out of Mob-Lunch Restaurant Space

3/3/11Follow @curtwoodward

An obvious sign your small office is growing fast: It’s getting harder to find a table for an all-hands meal. As workplace annoyances go, that’s a good one to have—especially if you’re leading Facebook’s first engineering hub outside the mothership in Palo Alto, CA.

Xconomy chatted with Seattle’s office lead, Ari Steinberg, Wednesday evening as the group welcomed visitors for a “Tech Talk” about its recent work on improving its analytics interface. (No joke: This was on the magazine table by the front desk.)

Steinberg’s overview was similar to what you hear from a lot of Silicon Valley companies that have expanded to Seattle—he says Facebook’s beachhead here is humming right along, continuing to add staff, and “really pleasantly surprised by the quality of people that we’re getting.”

But he adds that Seattle’s new engineers have already made a mark within the company and may eventually take the lead on some projects.

“Even in just our first small batch of people, there’s a number of them that have clearly had a pretty big impact and developed positive reputations among people in Palo Alto,” Steinberg says. “They’re very quickly getting some recognition.”

When Facebook Seattle was announced, officials said they planned to have space for around 30 people. Steinberg says they’ve probably topped that number already (after opening in August) and don’t see any reason to slow down yet.

“We’re actually now hitting some scaling problems,” he says. “The restaurant was going crazy [Wednesday] when we went for lunch because they didn’t have a table big enough for the whole group.”

Seattle’s engineers aren’t limited to a certain group of projects, but the office near Pike Place Market has developed clusters of people focusing on mobile, chat infrastructure, spam-fighting and the development platform, Steinberg says.

“There may also, down the road, be teams that are entirely based in Seattle. This isn’t like a hard-and-fast rule that it has to be this way,” Steinberg says. “It’s kind of an evolutionary thing. So I think as more people show up, we figure out what’s the best fit for them, and we can change things.”

From a user’s viewpoint, a lot of the work being done in Seattle is still … Next Page »

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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