Facebook’s Parikh: Mum on Google+, Lots to Say About Infrastructure

1/11/12Follow @curtwoodward

First things first: Yes, Facebook engineering director Jay Parikh has some thoughts about Google’s move to boost Google Plus above other social sources in its search stream. And no, he can’t say anything about it.

Twitter has been out front in criticizing Google’s newest social-signals revamp—named Search Plus Your World—and Facebook Seattle adviser Hadi Partovi said on his personal Twitter feed that he “used to love new @google search improvements with joy and even a bit of awe. This new social-results rollout is the opposite.”

But Facebook itself, which has a separate search arrangement with investor Microsoft’s Bing search engine, hasn’t made any sort of public pronouncement about the Google changes. When politely reminded about that by a public relations guy, I prodded Parikh a bit: Surely you must have some thoughts about it?

Jay Parikh

“Possibly,” he said, with a bit of a smile. “He wiped my brain. I know nothing.”

That particular brain-wipe would probably be a big job. Parikh, who joined Facebook in 2009 from Ning, heads up the social network’s infrastructure team, which spans everything from software that keeps more than 800 million users tied together to the nuts-and-bolts datacenter designs of the Open Compute Project.

Parkih was visiting Facebook’s Seattle engineering office to give a technical talk on the company’s projects—the kind of appearance that serves as a recruiting tool for engineers that Facebook might want to woo away from Microsoft, Amazon, or Google’s own sizable Seattle-area offices.

We’ve previously heard about some of the more user-facing projects that Seattle engineers have worked on, including messenger features, the iPad app, and the integration of Skype. But Parikh notes that there’s a good contingent of infrastructure engineers in Seattle too.

“We do have a growing presence up here for our infrastructure engineering team,” with about four groups who have a presence in Seattle of “a couple to a lot of engineers.”

That continued growth is the driver behind the Facebook office’s impending move to new, more spacious Seattle digs—double the size of the office near Pike Place Market, which held about 60 last time we heard. “We’ve been aggressively trying to build the set of projects and thus the set of engineers up here working on those projects,” Parikh says.

And perhaps counter to the Silicon Valley cliché of twentysomethings working all hours and passing out at their desks, Facebook is looking for a range of experience in its hires, Parikh says. That’s partly a necessity, since there aren’t enough new computer science graduates to fill all the technical jobs available, and an enormous number of digital startups are … Next Page »

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

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