Facebook now has an official Boston-area presence — it’s opened an engineering office in the Cambridge Innovation Center building in Kendall Square. The move has been rumored for a while but now Facebook execs are willing to talk about it — at least a little bit.
Neither Jay Parikh nor Ryan Mack will, for example, talk about local headcount. But they said the office will focus on four admittedly broad core areas: networking, compilers, security and storage.
So why Boston? “There’s a deep talent pool here between the universities and startup and the long-standing tech community,” said Mack, Boston site leader for Facebook. “We’re faced with monumental challenges as we try to connect pretty much the entire world. We’ve had engineers here for a while in shared workspaces but now is the right time to start an official office.”
Facebook needs to hire the best people regardless of geography to fulfill its mission of connecting “billions more people,” Parikh added. It already fields engineering offices in New York, Seattle, London and at its Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters.
There’s deep technical expertise in storage, cryptography, and many other technologies, clustered in the greater Boston area.
“In order to reach [all these people] and provide a fast, good user experience, the infrastructure we build has to extend across the globe. We need to optimize the net protocols, bandwidth for mobile devices. Most of those billions that are not yet connected will skip the desktop and PC and move right to smartphones, that brings challenges in load balancing and optimizing protocols over cell phone connections” Parikh said.
Mack is known for his work on Facebook’sTimeline; he also spent time working on the company’s massive photo infrastructure and MySQL. He’s happy that the small cadre of local Facebook engineers now have a cool office space to call their own.
Parikh knows the area well having worked at nearby Akamai for 9 years. “That cross-country commute isn’t all that bad,’ he said.