Facebook Grabs New Seattle Office, Doubling Space for More Hires

11/3/11Follow @curtwoodward

Facebook’s Seattle office, the social networking giant’s biggest engineering presence outside its Palo Alto, CA headquarters, is doubling its footprint to make room for more engineers. Facebook Seattle opened in August 2010 with three employees, and has grown to about 60 people in the year-plus since then, the company says.

Some key early projects that Seattle engineers have tackled include a revamped chat feature and the integrated Skype video calling service rolled out this summer, which was led by Facebook Seattle’s Philip Su, a former Microsoftie. Facebook says Seattle engineers also work on the iPad and other iOS functions, along with general site stability and reliability.

Leon Dubinsky, a Facebook Seattle engineer who worked on the long-awaited iPad app, described working in the remote office in this recent post recounting the project.

After starting during his “bootcamp” orientation in Palo Alto, Dubinsky wrote that he took his chunk of the app project home to Seattle, “and a few of my Seattle teammates joined me to help continue improving the product. It now feels a little more like the typical structure of Facebook Seattle—three or four people working up here, and three or four of your teammates down in Palo Alto.”

Facebook Seattle is led by Ari Steinberg, an engineer who was a fairly early Facebook employee. The company also counts on advisers like Hadi Partovi, formerly of iLike (and MySpace), and Peter Wilson, formerly of Google (and Microsoft).

The new 27,000-square-foot office will be at 1730 Minor Avenue. The original space is down by Pike Place Market, at 101 Stewart Street, and was clearly getting to capacity the last time I dropped by in June. The move is expected early next year.

The office has held pretty regular “tech talks,” which service as outreach and recruiting events. The biggest one of those came in late June, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg (and engineering head Mike Schroepfer), held an an invitation-only Q&A with developers, just before the Skype video calling announcement.

At that time, Zuckerberg praised the quality of talent in Seattle: “I just think there’s so many good engineers up here, largely from Microsoft and Amazon traditionally, and Google a bit more recently, and there’s a really good startup scene up here.”

Facebook Seattle posted this enticing photo of the view from its new digs, which has the city looking its non-drizzly best—only partly cloudy, Space Needle on display, and some sparkling water in the distance. (This is the Seattle I was dreaming of yesterday evening, when I got soaked waiting for the bus).

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

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