Here’s what I read on the plane on the way to San Francisco today – to our perfectly bland cubicle farm in the Walnut Creek office. (It’s from a TIME magazine article about Mark Zuckerburg’s quest to connect the world with Facebook. Facebook now has 8,000 employees, 1.35 billion users, and generated $7.87 billion of revenue last year, a billion and a half of that in profit). Check the full story out here.
When you walk into Facebook’s headquarters for the first time, the overwhelming impression you get is of raw, unbridled plenitude. There are bowls overflowing with free candy and fridges crammed with free Diet Coke and bins full of free Kind bars. They don’t have horns with fruits and vegetables spilling out of them, but they might as well.
The campus is built around a sun-drenched courtyard criss-crossed by well-groomed employees strolling and laughing and wheeling bikes. Those Facebookies who aren’t strolling and laughing and wheeling are bent over desks in open-plan office areas, looking ungodly busy with some exciting, impossibly hard task that they’re probably being paid a ton of money to perform. Arranged around the courtyard (where the word ‘hack’ appears in giant letters, clearly readable on Google Earth if not from actual outer space) are restaurants—Lightning Bolt’s Smoke Shack, Teddy’s Nacho Royale, Big Tony’s Pizzeria—that seem like normal restaurants right up until you try to pay, when you realize they don’t accept money. Neither does the barbershop or the dry cleaner or the ice cream shop. It’s all free.
You’re not even in the first world anymore, you’re beyond that. This is like the zeroth world. And it’s just the shadow of things to come: a brand-new campus, designed by Frank Gehry, natch, is under construction across the expressway. It’s slated to open next year.