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

3/3/11Follow @curtwoodward

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behind the scenes—which makes sense, since most of the people have joined in the past four months or so, fairly close to the amount of time needed to ship a project, Steinberg says.

Seattle engineers, however, have already taken a noticeable role in helping to beef up Facebook’s chat feature. The project originally was based entirely in Palo Alto, but Steinberg says Seattle has now become a second “center of mass” for that work.

Staying in touch with headquarters is done with all of the communication tools you’d expect in a 21st century workplace. But all the technical tools in the world can’t entirely replace the dynamic of a good shoulder-to-shoulder collaboration—as Facebook Vice President Mike Schroepfer pointed out last year, “it’s really hard to substitute for piling into a conference room and hashing things out on a whiteboard at 9 at night.”

Steinberg says that’s been helped by the clusters of engineers working on a project in the smaller office: They get some teammates to work with face-to-face, and “in Palo Alto, it becomes a much higher priority to integrate those people when there’s more than one of them.”

Navigating all of this is an interesting change for Steinberg and crew—they’re essentially writing the playbook for how Facebook’s satellite engineering offices will work in the future. As an engineer himself, Steinberg also is trying to balance between straight-ahead recruiting, integration of new hires, and some good old-fashioned coding whenever he can.

“I can’t keep myself away from it,” he says.

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

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  • Darrin Larkins

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