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Facebook Building a Company Town 159

Posted by samzenpus
from the like-this-home dept.
cold fjord writes "The Wall Street Journal reports, 'Facebook Inc.'s sprawling campus in Menlo Park, Calif., is so full of cushy perks that some employees may never want to go home. ... 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. ... 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. Some employees had inquired about places to live near the corporate campus, she said ... 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.'"
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Facebook Building a Company Town

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:20PM (#45031127)

    >were provided housing, health care, law enforcement, church and just about every other service necessary.'

    Amazing how you can make servitude sound good if you omit enough.

    They were also "provided" with constantly mounting debt and money unusable anywhere else to make them docile, servile, and put them at the bosses' mercy.

    • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:32PM (#45031657)

      >were provided housing, health care, law enforcement, church and just about every other service necessary.'

      They were also "provided" with constantly mounting debt and money unusable anywhere else to make them docile, servile, and put them at the bosses' mercy.

      Indeed. There's a reason for the chorus of the song Sixteen Tons [wikipedia.org], which tells about the plight of the coal miner in a company town:

      You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt [wikipedia.org]. St. Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go -- I owe my soul [wikipedia.org] to the company store [wikipedia.org].

      Unfortunately, the Wikipedia article on company towns [wikipedia.org] also seems to sweep away a lot of the negative stuff -- maybe the people who wrote the summary only read about the Wikipedia version of reality.

      That said, historical company towns that didn't force workers to use scrip [wikipedia.org] avoided some of these issues -- but that would mean allowing workers easily to exit the town by actually paying them real money, which they could take elsewhere. Many historical companies didn't want to allow that, so no matter how benevolent the educational and social things the company provided, it was often essentially a kind of slavery.

      • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @10:25PM (#45032251) Homepage Journal

        So you may owe your soul to the company store, but fortunately, you can pay in Zynga tokens.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The places Cadbury build for its employees are pretty nice and seemed to benefit the workers. It doesn't have to be as you describe, at least outside the US.

      • by Cyberdyne (104305) *

        That said, historical company towns that didn't force workers to use scrip [wikipedia.org] avoided some of these issues -- but that would mean allowing workers easily to exit the town by actually paying them real money, which they could take elsewhere.

        Why am I suddenly reminded of stock options and the whole "vesting" concept, where if you leave too soon some of the paper you got as part of your remuneration becomes worthless? Not identical of course - I'm guessing even Facebook's "company stores" won't tak

    • You're reminding me of Hilaire Belloc's, The Servile State [wikipedia.org], a great "third way" (i.e. neither capitalist/individualist nor socialist/collectivist) perspective:

      Many would argue that a man so compelled to labour, guaranteed against insecurity and against insufficiency of food, housing and clothing, promised subsistence for his old age, and a similar set of advantages for his posterity, would be a great deal better off than a free man lacking all these things. But the argument does not affect the definition

  • Next up... (Score:2, Redundant)

    by msauve (701917)
    cubes with showers, bathrooms, and beds! 7x24 productivity!
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by slick7 (1703596)
      I know your job is so cool that you do not want to go home, so I built you a home at work, so you can work from home, at work, without going home from work, so you can work at home, at home and then leaving home to go to work, at work, in your home, at work, to get your work done. Kapish?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Where is all the money coming from to pay for all this?

    I've never given FB a dime.

    Is this all from that dumb IP?

    Or is it intelligence world money?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hate Facebook more than anything, but this is a really good idea. Especially for the higher-ups.

    If they have enough services there, some might even rent semi-permanently if the price is good enough.
    I mean, some people go legally homeless and live in hotels and the like deliberately because it sometimes ends up being considerably cheaper for their lifestyle.
    Some, rarer, even go roofless. I wish I could find that one interview with a roofless guy who decided it was just better than renting a hotel or even

    • by AuMatar (183847) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:08PM (#45031521)

      I wouldn't want to live there long term, but for a company that hires as many new college grads and relocations as they do- it may be cheaper long term than renting them rooms for a transition period- corporate hosuing is expensive.

      • by SpzToid (869795)

        In my mind, where this will have the largest impact, is by reducing local housing pressures; especially local housing inflation.

        Amazon is basically doing the same thing using prime real estate in Downtown Seattle. These companies have such a large workforce that comprises such a large part of the surrounding community, stressing daily transportation, or local bandwidth, etc., these same companies have got to be taking the daily lifestyles of their employees, along with the impact onto the community, into co

  • The mission? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:25PM (#45031175)

    What mission is it the company thinks employees believe in, exactly? It's hard to believe the employees find it meaningful and rewarding to sell people's personal information or push advertisements into people's news feeds...

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      The mission is to make lots of money. I'm sure lots of people could get on board with that one.
    • Re:The mission? (Score:5, Informative)

      by uvajed_ekil (914487) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @10:36PM (#45032305)
      I like to hire smart employees: the ones who are loyal first to themselves, and their paychecks. We work in "Corporate America" to make money and fund the rest of our lives, not for some vague corporate "mission" that has no intrinsic value of its own. Yes, my employees better do their jobs and do them well, and they know that. They also know they will continue to be paid fairly well as long as they do their jobs. I don't screw them, they mostly don't try to screw me, and we skip all the superficial BS. If they find jobs that pay them more than I can, I wish them well. I've never had anyone leave for a company with a fancy mission statement - just money I can't compete with.
    • by Xest (935314)

      That's the bit that made me chuckle.

      No Facebook, they work for you because you have enough money to pay extremely well, no more, no less.

      No one works at Facebook because they believe in farming people's personal data and breaking various data protection laws around the world and getting away with it every 5 minutes.

    • There are consumers that value their facebook profile and the connections with others. I personally don't (what gave it away?), but I can see how some would and I can therefor see how someone might also find satisfaction in providing that valuable service to others. I bet there's a decent amount of facebook employees that wish the corporate heads would stop trying to pilfer so much from their user base.
  • Not really (Score:5, Informative)

    by timeOday (582209) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:26PM (#45031177)
    Key quote:

    The apartments will go for market rates, and a handful will be set aside for low income residents. All but 15 of the units will be open to non-Facebook employees.

    So, it's a new 394-unit development in Menlo Park, which is near Facebook (and lots of other things).

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Key quote:

      The apartments will go for market rates, and a handful will be set aside for low income residents. All but 15 of the units will be open to non-Facebook employees.

      So, it's a new 394-unit development in Menlo Park, which is near Facebook (and lots of other things).

      Yep. And now's the time to acquire real estate.

    • Re:Not really (Score:4, Interesting)

      by saccade.com (771661) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:32PM (#45031245) Homepage Journal
      Ironically, the FB headquarters is right next to East Palo Alto, one of the poorer neighborhoods in the Bay Area. In the early '90s it had the highest (per capita) murder rate in the US, but that's since come down. Still, maybe not the place the average FaceBook nerd want's to send their kids to school at.
    • Menlo Park? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by FooAtWFU (699187) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:49PM (#45031363) Homepage
      Legally it's Menlo Park, but that's just because of the gerrymandering. If you'd asked me, I'd say Facebook HQ is in East Palo Alto, a high-crime/low-income area that most people in the area know only by its IKEA. Between the safety and the paucity of relevant local stores/services/etc, it's not exactly the number one place you'd choose to live. (That said, if you're over there, try some Jamaican food at Back-a-yard.)

      They've also got Fremont nearbyish (across the bridge) - it's reasonably affordable for the area, but it's all sprawling-suburbs and is very quiet. Palo Alto is the next town over the freeway; if you don't mind fighting rush-hour traffic for half an hour to go a few miles, it's probably the most interesting place to live. Menlo Park proper has limited housing stocks. Atherton is even worse (it's a series of sprawling mansions, though a pleasant drive).

      If living near work keeps some employees sane, these apartments will be a godsend. Of course, the real question is "why did facebook put its headquarters in the armpit of the Bay?"

      I'm in Brooklyn now. Subway to work. :D

  • The property... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:26PM (#45031187) Homepage Journal

    Will probably be the only thing people remember of facebook in 10 years.

  • Circles (Score:4, Informative)

    by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:33PM (#45031255)

    For those who haven't read it yet, the NYT Magazine has an excerpt from a new Dave Eggers book named Circles [nytimes.com]. It captures this sort of thing eerily well.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    will it come with complimentary nets around the buildings? you know, for the times when someone "unlikes" your posts?

  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:52PM (#45031383)

    Some people say a man is made outta mud
    A code monkey's got Mountain Dew for his blood
    Dew in the blood and Cheeto bones
    A bad back and carpal tunnel syndrome

    You click 16 likes and whaddaya get?
    Another ad targeted to your regret
    Can't get a new job for what my profile showed
    I owe info to the company store

    I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
    I picked up my laptop and I coded a line
    I coded PHP and in Javascript
    And off to Menlo Park then I was shipped

    You click 16 likes and whaddaya get?
    Another ad targeted to your regret
    Can't get a new job for what my profile showed
    I owe info to the company store

    If you see me comin', better step aside
    The Dew and Cheetos made me a little too wide
    A little too wide and a little too old
    But for Facebook's perks my soul I've sold

    You click 16 likes and whaddaya get?
    Another ad targeted to your regret
    Can't get a new job for what my profile showed
    I owe info to the company store

  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:53PM (#45031401)
    Greetings are made not by waiving, but giving a thumbs up (anyone giving thumbs down will be publicly beaten)

    Everyone is needy and constantly pesters you to be their "friend"

    The town bulletin board is full of trite comics and jokes (and nothing useful)

    Traveling salesmen do recon by eavesdropping on all your conversations and then show up at your door to sell you everything they think you want to buy

    Every few weeks, someone walks into a stranger's home after dark, takes off all their clothes and tells everyone about embarrassing personal matters before they realize they got off at the wrong bus stop

    The population numbers are inflated because everyone uses multiple identities and fake IDs

    Public works tears down all the infrastructure and rebuilds everything from scratch every year (the townsfolk protest about it for 5 minutes before relenting)
    • I always figured it'd be like The Truman Show [imdb.com] -- everyone putting on a big show of being an abnormally perfect [insert identity here] when they think someone important is paying attention, then secretly saying/doing all kinds of "unacceptable" stuff whenever they think they're safe from scrutiny...forgetting that no matter how much the world focuses on someone else, the 'cameras'/Facebook are actually there recording 24/7.

      Given there will probably be security cams all over the place, and they'll likely be r

  • by rueger (210566) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:58PM (#45031443) Homepage
    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.'"

    Hey, hopefully they'll get some tips from the Chinese companies [ibtimes.com] that make the technology that support Facebook....
  • by thammoud (193905)

    Thumbs up here.

  • by GrahamJ (241784)
    The idea of working at Facebook conjures up images of that horrible reality tv show where several people live in a house. Drama!
  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdotNO@SPAMuberm00.net> on Thursday October 03, 2013 @08:14PM (#45031549) Homepage Journal

    You also have 24 hours to vacate your apartment.

  • and what do you get?
    Another day older and deeper in debt.
    St. Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
    I ow my soul to the company store.

  • It's a great idea, so long as you don't turn day-to-day operations over to an AI. [wikia.com]

  • Why would I want to do that?
  • misread (Score:5, Funny)

    by johntromp (565732) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @09:46PM (#45032041)

    "to a doggy day care"

    I originally read that as "dodgy day care" ...

    -John

  • "After initially turning him away, Facebook's new company store eventually agrees to accept Eduardo Saverin's pre-IPO Facebook scrip."

  • by uvajed_ekil (914487) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @10:26PM (#45032255)
    "Yeah, we're not going to pay you enough to own a nice place nearby, but we'll lease you a mediocre place where it will be hard for you to call off or seek better employment, okay?"
  • The old company towns worked to keep people in for the long term. The only way that businesses come close to that is with their preference for less free labor (temporary workers, guest workers) - and to keep people for shorter terms.

  • Forget about it ...
  • I hope they'll name it Creepy Hollow.

  • Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it.

    http://www.h-net.org/~latam/powerpoints/Pullman.pdf

    what is next for facebook, paying its workers in script?
  • "Facebook's plan breaks new ground."

    Not really, Bournville [wikipedia.org] (home of the makers of Cadburys Chocolate) was constructed by it's Quaker founders. They built affordable housing for the workers, a swimming baths, parks, and made sure that their workers lived in good surroundings for their own health and welfare. No pubs though, Quakers are not too fond of alcohol!

    Other wealthy Victorian companies did the same in the cotton industries and other areas of extreme expansion.

    It didn't last forever though, those comp

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladiator-At-Law [wikipedia.org]

    The plot is typically topsy-turvy. Whereas in the earlier novel The Space Merchants the world was ruled by advertising agencies, in this novel corporate lawyers, especially the secretive firm of "Green, Charlesworth" have gained a stranglehold on the world. Business Law is an extremely lucrative career, while Criminal Law pays enough to afford some of the luxuries of life but not enough to save for the future.

    Success means living in a luxurious automated "bubbl

  • In other news, an Internet commentator notices the trend of computing hardware, the Internet, data storage, and nearly all other technology to decentralize and empower individuals to create and manage their own data, in direct opposite direction the billionaires' desire to funnel all resources, labor, web traffic, and money into fewer accumulation points.

  • Let work be work and home be home . I dont think this is a good idea at all .
  • I just listened to this short (45 minute), free audio book this morning on the way to work... and then this article popped up on Slashdot. I swear I heard the Twilight Zone theme song start playing and got a shiver. "We Like You So Much and Want to Know You Better" [audible.com]
  • I wouldn't mind living in a dorm(itory), like my college days, on my workplace campus since commuting sucks (up to two hours one way sometimes!) especially in Los Angeles. Also, it's expensive! I don't drive so I have to rely on rides since I am disabled. :(

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