Facebook Confirms Acquisition of Former Sun Campus for New World HQ

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2011-02-08 Print this article Print

After it moves this summer, Facebook will have a total of 79 acres in Menlo Park, Calif., for its new world headquarters.

Facebook confirmed Feb. 8 what eWEEK reported on Feb. 4: That the world's largest social network has acquired the 57-acre former Sun Microsystems campus in Menlo Park, Calif., now owned by Oracle, to use as its future world headquarters.

The company also revealed that it has bought two neighboring parcels across the highway and a few blocks west to use if more expansion is required in the coming years. In all, Facebook will have a total of about 79 acres in Menlo Park.

Facebook made the announcement before a horde of media people at Menlo Park City Hall. Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman said Facebook would probably make the 10-mile move north during June and July this year.

The deal was described a sale leaseback, which entails a 15-year lease from Oracle with an option to purchase the property after five years, Ebersman said. Terms were not disclosed.

Facebook will keep its current location in Palo Alto, but the Menlo Park campus will become its headquarters.

After it is relocated, the company will live a mere four freeway exits-or about 4 miles-south of Oracle, the world's second-largest software company. Both enterprises will share the San Francisco Bay as its backdrop.

The 11-building Sun campus has been vacant for most of the last few months after Oracle acquired Sun in January 2010. Sun had employed about 2,000 people on the site, which is capable of accommodating around 3,000 employees.

Room for New Employees

Facebook currently employs about 1,400 people in Palo Alto and a total of 2,000 globally. Like numerous other Web 2.0 companies, it is in a hiring mode.

A public clue to all of this turned up last month in an agenda item for a committee hearing on the Menlo Park city budget, which involved "finalizing land use entitlements for a new tenant at Sun campus."

Other local sources not affiliated with Facebook-including one of the contractors who will be refurbishing the campus-had confirmed the acquisition earlier to eWEEK, although due diligence in the transaction apparently was still being performed last week.

Two days after Christmas 2010, Facebook quietly acquired two neighboring properties to the former Sun campus, 312 and 314 Constitution Drive. San Mateo County property records indicate the land was bought by a shell company, Giant Properties LLC, which lists the address Facebook uses in Palo Alto.

The former Sun campus at 17 Network Circle-at the intersection of Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road and at the west end of the Dumbarton Bridge-was built by Sun in the early 1990s and was the site of much of the company's Java, server and mobile applications research and development. All of the company's marketing groups were located there, as well as an impressive executive conference center.

The location has been described as resembling a movie studio or movie set, due to its colorful exterior.

Facebook's current headquarters is a former Hewlett-Packard building located a few blocks from the Stanford University campus in a residential neighborhood of Palo Alto. The company moved into that building in July 2009 from its former offices in downtown Palo Alto, where it had been for three years.

The city of Menlo Park, like so many other municipalities around the nation, certainly will welcome the addition of a multibillion-dollar-earning company such as Facebook.

The city, located about 30 miles south of San Francisco, has suffered a major loss of property tax revenue during the last three years due to the slumping macroeconomy. A number of downtown businesses-mostly automobile sales and other retail businesses-have been forced to close their doors since 2008.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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