Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of the Community Center neighborhood, on Apr 13, 2012 at 9:09 am
Paul Losch is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
This is a pretty bold proposal by Facebook.
I am not going to get into the arcane details that Facebook has teed up and will get careful scrutiny by Menlo Park officials (who will also bring up many more.)
Instead, I offer up questions about culture.
With my limited outsider's understanding of the Facebook proposal, this seems like a radical (don't take that word as good or bad, I have a point)notion of how people live and work for a large company in this country.
Lots of postives: among others are the commute by foot, be able to engage with colleagues as students and faculty do at colleges and universities that informal environments foster well. An effort to work with CMP to support community needs. There are others, I hope I made the point.
Lots of question marks: I have done business in China over the years, and the folks I work with have wonderful working and living conditions for the employees. Still there is a "captive" aspect to it that consistently has troubled me.
Is there a life outside the campus? I spent some time early in my career working at large corporations, some experiences good, some of them bad. That is to be expected. And, when I left work each day, I had a life and friends with whom I spent time with no regard at all to my work place. ALL Facebook people, from Mark Z. on down, need a life outside Facebook. I observe that this is true for any large company, including our recent superstars at Apple and Google. But Facebook is extending it a great deal further.
Does Facebook's model work only for the 20 somethings that work all hours? Things change for people when marriage, kids, school and 8-10 hour days take priority. If the model Facebook has is not different than what China factories have, people will leave at a certain point. Management depth, intellectual knowledge, things like that, will be lost, or at best reduced. A few impressive people at that top, lots of grunts spread out below the heirarchy that may find their loyalties dissipating as they get on with their lives.
Facebook is offering a huge experiment to Menlo Park and Silicon Valley. My personal inclination, with no vested interest in it, is that they go for it. Too often, we tend to hunker down when a truly new idea affects our personal lives, not our work lives. Facebook is offering something up that affects personal lives as well.