Bay Area housing, traffic have Facebook looking elsewhere for expansion

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a publicly broadcast QA with employees that his company is looking elsewhere for growth because of the Bay Area’s housing and traffic issues.

“The infrastructure here is really tapped,” Zuckerberg said Thursday. “Housing prices are way up. Traffic is bad.” He added that while Facebook is trying to do what it can to help with what he called the region’s policy challenges, “at this point we’re primarily growing outside of the Bay Area.”

The social networking giant has a huge footprint in the Bay Area, where it was founded. In addition to the company’s massive headquarters in Menlo Park, it also has offices in Fremont, Mountain View and San Francisco, and plans to open offices in Burlingame next year. Last month, it opened a new campus in Sunnyvale, leasing 1 million square feet that can accommodate thousands of employees.

Facebook’s largest locations outside the Bay Area are in Seattle, Austin and New York City, a spokesman said Friday. Other major cities where the company has offices include Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Denver and Washington, D.C.

Facebook has tried to address the Bay Area housing crunch by proposing mixed-use space in Menlo Park and subsidizing apartments for teachers, funding housing for low-income residents and more. The foundation by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, earlier this year partnered with Facebook, Genentech and others to pledge $500 million to build or preserve more than 8,000 homes in the Bay Area over the next 5 to 10 years.

Zuckerberg addressed the Bay Area’s infrastructure woes as part of his answer to an employee’s question about why Facebook isn’t friendlier to remote work. The CEO said he prefers big hubs where Facebook engineering teams could be around one another, and that he doesn’t want to have a lot of small offices around the world, except for where sales teams need to be in the markets they’re serving.

Zuckerberg’s comments come as other tech companies, including Apple and Google, expand their presence in the Bay Area.

Facebook isn’t the only tech company that’s looking to grow elsewhere, though. Commercial real estate brokerage Cushman Wakefield said this week that 58 of the 89 biggest — with headquarters of 100,000 square feet and above — tech and life science companies based in the Bay Area have leased 30.4 million square feet of office space in other U.S. cities since January 2010. Outside the Bay Area, the five markets with the most square footage leased by those types of companies are Austin, Seattle, New York, Southern California and Chicago.

Facebook’s CEO live-streamed the internal meeting this week after audio of a previous meeting was leaked to the Verge. At that meeting, Zuckerberg said Facebook would fight Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s efforts to break up the company if she became president. At Thursday’s meeting, Zuckerberg said he would try not to “antagonize” Warren further.


Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-housing-traffic-have-facebook-looking-elsewhere-for-expansion

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