In the latest sign of growing pains, Facebook, fresh form an infusion of investor cash that raised its value to $50 billion, is moving its headquarters from Palo Alto, Calif., to bigger digs in nearby Menlo Park in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The one-million-square foot campus that will be the social-networking giant's new home contains offices for Oracle, which acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010. That company will still use office space on the campus under an agreement with RREEF real-estate management, which will lease some of the 11 buildings to Facebook in a 15-year deal, according to Palo Alto Online.
Safety Valve for Growth
The web site also said the company bought adjacent land on two lots near the campus on Constitution Drive. Facebook's real-estate director, John Tenanes, told Palo Alto Online the company might want a "safety valve" for growth in the form of more space before the lease expires. That makes enough room for 6,100 employees, with a tunnel linking the properties.
Facebook currently has about 2,000 employees. The report said Menlo Park views Facebook as an anchor tenant that could attract more big companies to the San Mateo County town of about 30,000. Other companies that call Menlo Park home include biotechnology firm Geron, human-resources firm Robert Half International, and the research institute SRI International.
Facebook's move comes as cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the world's youngest self-made billionaire, seems to be paying a price for his celebrity. Zuckerberg reportedly filed a restraining order against a 31-year-old man who showed up at his office and home, left flowers, and sent Zuckerberg messages via Facebook, including one that said, "I am ready to die for you."
The gossip site TMZ said 27-year-old Zuckerberg filed court papers claiming Pradeep Manukonda tried to "follow, surveil and contact Mr. Zuckerberg using language threatening his personal safety" as well as that of his girlfriend and his sister. The papers said Facebook security guards intercepted Pradeep on Jan. 24 as he tried to enter Zuckerberg's home. The order of protection requires Pradeep to stay 300 feet away from Zuckerberg, his sister, Randi, and his girlfriend.
The company's mercurial success in six short years begs the question of whether it can sustain its growth or lose ground to an eventual newcomer, just as Facebook stole the thunder of MySpace and smaller predecessors.
"We've hit a tipping point that's foundational where Facebook is different than MySpace," said Michael Gartenberg of Gartner Research. "Look at the number of people over 30 who use it. The fact that Facebook has worked to drive forward with new features and new experiences such as mobile give it a longevity that we haven't seen before."
That doesn't mean others can't carve out a chunk of the pie, though. "Certainly companies like Google haven't ceded the market to Facebook, and I expect them to be challenged on more than one front in the future," Gartenberg said.
Image credit: iStock/Artist's concept.