Facebook's Company Town - 394-Unit Housing Community
Facebook Inc.'s sprawling campus in Menlo Park, Calif., is so full of cushy perks that some employees may never want to go home. Soon, they'll have that option.
The social network said this week it is working with a local developer to build a $120 million, 394-unit housing community within walking distance of its offices. Called Anton Menlo, the 630,000 square-foot rental property will include everything from a sports bar to a doggy day care.
Even in Silicon Valley, where tech companies compete to lure coveted engineers with over-the-top perks and offices that resemble adult playgrounds, Facebook's plan breaks new ground.
A Facebook spokeswoman said employee retention wasn't a major factor in the real estate push. "We're certainly excited to have more housing options closer to campus, but we believe that people work at Facebook because what they do is rewarding and they believe in our mission," she said.
The Facebook Life
Amenities for residents of an apartment building Facebook is constructing near its campus:
- On-site cafe, convenience store, and sports pub
- Bicycle repair shop with onsite storage
- Pet spa with doggy day care, pet walking services, dog park
- Resort-inspired pool, spa and cabana area
- Indoor/outdoor wellness, yoga and training facility with personal training
- Rooftop entertainment deck with three-themed areas
Some employees had inquired about places to live near the corporate campus, she said, amid a housing shortage in Menlo Park.
The development conjures up memories of so-called "company towns" at the turn of the 20th century, where American factory workers lived in communities owned by their employer and were provided housing, health care, law enforcement, church and just about every other service necessary.
Spending more time in the clutches of the company sphere isn't necessarily positive. One reason the old company towns eventually disappeared was that they could be overbearing to workers. In the 2013 version, the downside could be unspoken expectations that employees always be working.
Facebook's plans are still a far cry from those steelworker and mining company towns from a century ago. Facebook employees aren't expected to work there for their entire lives. And the new development can only house a maximum of about 10% of its Menlo Park employees.
But the move speaks to how competition is reshaping the role of corporate culture in the tech industry.
"Silicon Valley is in many ways the antithesis of the company town," said Ajay Agrawal, a professor of entrepreneurship at University of Toronto. In today's tech industry, Mr. Agrawal says, employees feel less tied to a company, and more tied to the geographical location and industry. They're more likely to switch companies and collaborate on ideas with people outside their own corporation.
One of the downsides of the Silicon Valley model, Mr. Agrawal says, is that if companies believe their employees will likely leave, they won't invest as much in their lives or their development.
"There may be some optimal level between the extreme company town," he says, "and Silicon Valley, where everyone is moving companies."
To build the housing, Facebook's "amenities team" worked with developer St. Anton Partners, a San Francisco Bay area, multi-family real estate developer, to create an environment that mirrors the atmosphere of its corporate campus, where employees are encouraged to mingle and share ...