By Michael Norton
State House News Service
BOSTON -- Amid the buzz over Twitter's initial public offering, social media giant Facebook on Thursday quietly announced that it's building an engineering team in Cambridge, complimenting similar teams in London, New York, Seattle, and Menlo Park, California.
Ryan Mack, the designated site lead for "Facebook Boston," wrote on Facebook that he moved to the East Coast with his wife two and a half years ago after she was offered a job at an "awesome biotech startup" in Boston. He began working remotely from the Boston area with other Facebook engineers, including a stint working out of a basement in Boston's Chinatown neighborhood. Mack called the Boston area an "easy choice" for a new office.
Since he moved to the area, Facebook has "helped more than 1.19 billion people around the world connect on Facebook." re--tooled its engineering organization to focus on mobile first, and taken on an effort "to help connect the next 5 billion people on the planet," according to Mack.
"We've faced some unprecedented engineering and infrastructure challenges to get to this point, and now we're facing a whole new set. We're going to need even more help to meet those new challenges, so we've decided to start building a new engineering team in Boston," he wrote. "Our engineering culture is incredibly important to us, so we are very deliberate when it comes to expanding that culture to new locations. But in many ways, Boston was an easy choice. The tech community here is world--class, from the incredible academic institutions to the vibrant startup ecosystem to the bevy of global companies who have teams here. We are thrilled to have found a new home here and hope we can help the community continue to thrive."
Mack said the Boston team will "start small" and urged potential employees to check their Boston jobs page.
In a Thursday morning email, Facebook's Alex Hollander included a quote from House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who 18 months ago wrote a letter on the Menlo Park Patch site urging Facebook to open a business office in Massachusetts.
DeLeo saluted the company's plans to open an office in the Kendall Square area of Cambridge -- the Facebook Boston page pinpoints the office at 1 Broadway in Cambridge.
"I welcome the decision of Facebook, a global brand name in the realm of social media, to open an office in Massachusetts," DeLeo said in a statement. "For almost two years, I have been talking about our efforts to encourage Facebook to have a presence here in Massachusetts, where the idea for the company was first born. This announcement reinforces our state's standing as a place where innovators and technology companies want to be and positions us for the further growth of our innovation economy."
As Facebook Boston got its page up and running Thursday, so did DeLeo.
DeLeo's brand new Facebook page, created around 9 a.m. Thursday, according to the page itself, features a photo of the Winthrop Democrat in front of a sandcastle in the shape of Fenway Park. It features two posts, one a link to Facebook's announcement about the Cambridge office and the other a quote from DeLeo welcoming the company.
"So pleased that eighteen months after writing to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook announces a return to Massachusetts. Welcome back!" wrote DeLeo, who plans a late--morning press conference in his office to discuss the news.