Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

They Grow Up So Quickly: New Central HQ for Facebook Coming Soon!

It looks like Facebook will definitely be moving from its funky multi- building setup in downtown Palo Alto, Calif., to a centralized campus in Silicon Valley by early next year, said several sources.

The high-profile social networking company–which has been undergoing a major managerial shift of late, as it matures from its start-up status to that of a more established Web player–has been growing quickly–to almost 600 employees today from a couple hundred last year.

It is not clear when the move will take place, but sources said it is likely to start by the beginning of next year, as there are multiple permits, design issues and other logistical issues to resolve.

But, one thing is clear: Facebook will relocate its Palo Alto-based HQ–scattered in about five buildings throughout the suburban town–to a single location.

New HQ possibilities include, first and foremost, the old Hewlett-Packard buildings on Page Mill Road, nearby to the west of Palo Alto.

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg prefers to remain near Palo Alto, sources said.

But Facebook has also been looking at locations in Mountain View and Sunnyvale, further south, as well as also considering a San Francisco location in the city’s recently redeveloped Mission Bay area.

Until now, Facebook has expanded by filling up rented buildings throughout Palo Alto, the picturesque town right next to Stanford University.

The appeal of being located in Palo Alto–full of shops, restaurants movies and also within walking distance of the main train station into San Francisco–has been a draw for its employees, who have, until recently, gotten some rental subsidies for being located near its offices.

But–as it has grown–Facebook’s presence in town has also become a problem for it and also the town’s citizens, as its swarms of employees have taken up too much space and parking in the increasingly crowded streets.

Growing further in Palo Alto is almost impossible, given the lack of office space and the higher expense, compared to the more typical office-park setups off Highway 101 in Silicon Valley that most Internet companies settle into.

Given Facebook’s plans to grow to 1,000 employees by the end of this year, it’s not a surprise that managers would be thinking of the next home for the company, making a move that is typical for most start-ups.

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO brought in from Google (GOOG) recently, saw such a thing happen to the search giant, which now has a large campus called the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif.

Over the past six months, there has been a lot of upgrading of Facebook’s looser culture to bring it up to a more professional operation it needs to be if it wants to IPO at some point.

That has meant a lot of internal rejiggering, as well as what BoomTown can only describe as a maturing of its frat-like culture.

There have also been departures of several of its early employees, which also always happens as start-ups mature. Those who have left include: former top exec Owen Van Natta and CTO Adam D’Angelo.

And, just last week, Matt Cohler, its VP of Product Management and longtime adviser to Zuckerberg, announced he will leave Facebook in the fall to become a venture capital partner at Benchmark Capital.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google