Since social media is such a big part of my brand, I was seriously excited to get invited to visit Facebook and Instagram HQ in Menlo Park, California last month. The trip down from San Francisco involves a Lyft (or Uber) to Caltrain, then a 40-minute ride down to Palo Alto.
Once I get off at the Palo Alto station, I’ve got a pass to ride the Facebook shuttle to its massive campus. I had no idea as to how immense a place Facebook was (and it’s growing by leaps and bounds!). The distance from Facebook’s buildings to Instagram involves a drive or bike ride (we walked in about 15 minutes).
Imagine a small city, with candy shop, hair dresser, cafes, restaurants, an immense rooftop garden (dubbed Facebook National Park by employees), a bike repair shop and patios — all at your workplace.
Signing in at building 12 (there’s 20 with #21 on its way), I was given a pass and met my longtime friend Steve, a FB developer, who took me around the campus.
I figured it would take about an hour to see it all. I was wrong there: try FOUR! It’s that crazy big. These photos are what I can share with you guys.
The shots of one of IG’s founders in a glass-enclosed meeting room, Mark Zuckerberg’s glass office and desk inside Building 20, whiteboards with meeting notes, electrical folks gathering around hard drives discovering what could be the next Facebook platform, inside WhatsApp and VR tech company Oculus — all off-limits.
I DID get to check out the Instagram gallery, containing the very first IG photo taken and posted to the platform. And the print shop where employees can come in and print up whatever suits their mood (as a designer, this would be the place I’d most want to hang out).
Vending machines for employees at Facebook are filled with Apple tech, making life easy for those times your keyboard dies or you lack the right cable for a presentation. Food is everywhere – good, organic food (and the sugary stuff too).
After a quick stop inside the store, we grab BBQ lunch right before the noon-time crowds start to form. What impresses me the most is the sheer amount of space dedicated to nurturing Mark Zuckerberg’s vision. There’s a ton of cool artwork and interior design touches gracing each building.
Another thing I notice? Each building has an individual culture and layout. Instagram is definitely the prettiest, with walls of knick-knacks in perfect place and a library that I’d have loved to have photographed the contents of.
As we walk through “Facebook National Park” on a gorgeous sunny afternoon, I have to wonder when folks get their work done. With picnic blankets and food readily available to sit outdoors (and libraries with dimmed lighting), I’m guessing it’s up to employees to organize their workflow.
I also see a lot of employees wearing Facebook shirts and hoodies. It’s definitely a workplace that people are proud to be a part of. When a Facebook @hackathon takes place, hundreds of employees gather to collaborate on ideas, with food, team spirit and good times, later getting two minutes to demo their finished app or feature.
A wall of posters show off hackathons that have taken place at Facebook offices around the globe. I take one long, last glimpse over towards the immense parking lot space that will soon be Building 21 and can only imagine Facebook’s robust future plans.