Persistent rumors about Facebook needing more space for its fast-growing Seattle engineering team were correct but it isn’t moving to a new building just yet.
Instead, the company has lined up enough space to double its Seattle team in its current building off Howell Street on the east edge of downtown.
On Monday Facebook moved into a fourth floor and it has lined up two more floors – doubling the number of floors it rents from three to six – and creating room for 750 to 800 employees.
The Seattle office opened in 2010 and now employs about 400 people.
“We’re just going to continue growing,” said Paul Carduner, a Whitman College graduate who moved up from the Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters to lead the Seattle office last year.
Carduner (pictured) said a more contiguous space is preferable so the company is likely to end up moving to a different building in Seattle in the near future.
“It sort of depends on how fast we grow. It probably won’t be too long,” he said.
The Seattle office has hired veterans of Microsoft, Amazon.com, Google, Expedia and other local companies as well as graduates of schools such as the universities of Washington and Waterloo.
Much of the company’s work in Seattle is on the Facebook platform, developing things like developer tools and programming interfaces. The team also works on advertising technology, infrastructure, messaging and, lately, has been heavily involved in video projects.
Today the company took over much of the Space Needle for one of its periodic hackathons, at which employees have a chance to work on special projects they wouldn’t take on otherwise.
After spending the day working in the mid-level deck they planned to head up to the observation deck for dinner.
Facebook has five or six hackathons a year in Seattle but this is the first one done off-site.
“We looked around and said ‘that looks like a cool place to do a hackathon,”’ Carduner said.
Projects will be vetted by the team. The best prospects for growing into a large project will be presented to Mark Zuckerberg and other executives for consideration.
The event’s theme is “tear down this wall,” which is intended to guide employees to work on tools and systems that will remove barriers and help the company continue to grow without losing the feel of a startup.
One project being developed was suggested by an administrative assistant. She was a bit overwhelmed by all the balloons she had to order for employees’ “Facebookversaries” – marking each year of employment. So she and some engineers hacked together a system to partly automate the balloon ordering.