What it's like at Facebook Headquarters
My trip started November 5th, 2014 with a flight to San Francisco to meet up with my 3 travel buddies and friends that happened to be in the Bay Area. My kind and generous San Francisco host works at Facebook and was awesome enough to offer a tour to my friends and I. We were able to visit Facebook headquarter's campus for brunch and toured around the very cool facilities there.
We even got to write on Facebook’s Wall while we were there.
Facebook’s campus and office buildings are full of really cool art pieces. In the early days of this new campus, the labyrinth of cookie cutter buildings and drab grey hallways were making it difficult to navigate. Employees would regularly get lost or lose their way while looking for a particular office. Facebook’s solution was to give every person a $25 budget to bring some kind of art they liked and fill the walls of the empty office hallways. This resulted in an amazing collection of paintings, graffiti, Lego walls, hanging sculptures and more. Needless to say, employees were able to use these large and colorful landmarks to find their way around more easily and it created a legitimate reason to say, “Meet me under the hammerhead shark in 15 minutes.”
One of Facebook's mottos for work is to "move fast and break things." It's meaning is two ideas. "Move fast is about always having a minimal viable product, releasing early and often, not trying to make things perfect, and iterating as quickly as you can. That's one way you beat your competition. Break things is about not being bound by the current way of doing things, what others have done before, etc. this is the other way you beat your competition, by breaking whatever preconceived ideas or existing infrastructure you have to, to achieve your goals." I think I'll take this literally and adopt it as my life motto. Don't ever let me in a china shop.
Facebook is now a thriving living campus full of color and creativity. Everything on campus is free for its employees, including food, coffee, candy, laundry, replacement macbook pro chargers out of vending machines, and an arcade…you name it, it is probably there, and it’s free. The food is simply delicious, smoked and BBQ meats, fresh local produce, hot coffee from Philz Coffee, and don't let me even get started on the desserts. There are literal baskets and racks of candy, sweets, and snacks exiting almost every building. You're supposed to just be trusted to take what you need and leave the rest. I'm sorry Facebook I really needed some Nibs and a Reese's for the road. I owe you one.
So many people would come down the red staircase on the left of the photo below and march across the grass, taking the most direct route to the caffeinated nectar served by Philz Coffee that the grass turned into brown mush. Bricks were set in place to keep up with the foot traffic. Eventually those bricks got painted yellow, spurring the nickname "the yellow brick road" to Philz Coffee. One day a house showed up with Dororthy and the Wicked Witch of the East to complete the scene. To this day it just sits there as something normal and acceptable to have happened. It is just one of the many things that makes this place so cool to experience. I've seen foosball tables and ping pong tables on the landing of staircases and entire office meeting room sections named after candy bars.
Getting around the extra large campus is fun. They have bikes with baskets sitting around everywhere in sizes like small, medium, and large. You can just hop on and go to where you want to go. Hopefully a bike is available for you when you’re done for your return trip.
One of the more memorable parts of facebook was the "Empathy Lab" which has a variety of old computers, old cell phones, or even current cellular products used in other countries with subpar data rates, low resolution screens, or devices used by the deaf or blind. If you create a new program, you can bring it to one of these devices and see how a major portion of your audience will interact with it. High res graphics may be too much for slow internet speeds to handle and you can see if you’ve done a good enough job at throttling back your designs at this empathy lab.
And of course on your way out you have to stop and get your picture with the Facebook thumbs up logo out by the street. All-in-all it was a very enjoyable day. I’d go back again just for the delicious free food.