Facebook’s new Boston office—which is really in Cambridge, MA—is up and running, and there’s plenty of elbow room.
The digs measure 130,000 square feet of open-style tech workspaces, something called micro-kitchens, a massive cafeteria, and cheeky-titled conference rooms. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of Cambridge, Boston’s Beacon Hill, the Zakim Bridge, and more, all from the eighth, ninth, and 10th floors of a new office building in Kendall Square developed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities.
About 200 people, mostly engineers, work at the office, which has room for more than 600 employees, according to Ryan Mack, the office’s founding engineer. He oversaw the ramp-up from a seven-person team in 2013 to another bustling tech office. On Wednesday, he announced he’s passing the reins for the office to fellow engineer Laney Zamore.
Word of the new space, and booming headcount, had been out since August 2017.
That first local Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) office was in Boston proper, near South Station. Establishing an engineering outpost here was a homecoming for the tech company that was founded here nearly a decade earlier when CEO Mark Zuckerberg attended Harvard, but later moved to the Bay Area. Damon Cox, Massachusetts assistant secretary of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, joked that he always referred to Facebook as “the company that got away.”
The Boston engineering office then moved across the river to Central Square, Cambridge, and most recently Broadway Avenue in Kendall Square. It was there, in October 2016, that the engineering center hit the 100-employee mark.
The work in Boston was mostly around compilers (which translate programs into machine code), networking, cybersecurity, and data storage, but it’s now expanded to artificial intelligence, data science, connectivity, and location services like Facebook’s Nearby Friends, Find Wi-Fi, Blood Donation, and Safety Check.
Recently, Mack said some of the work being done by the office’s data and location services teams involves wrangling permissions to gather data that have been imposed by recent online privacy laws like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.
“The teams that sit in this Binney Street office are working on projects that continue to impact Facebook’s 10-year roadmap and mission,” Zamore said.
A Facebook team that powered Tanzania with mesh Wi-Fi is based in the office, as are data warehousing, data infrastructure, and machine learning teams, she said.
Brian Dowling is a Senior Editor at Xconomy, based in Boston. You can reach him at bdowling [at] xconomy.com.