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Facebook: The other Internet

Mike Elgan | May 19, 2015
Facebook, like Google and other Silicon Valley giants, doesn't want its employees to leave.

You can do almost everything online. Most people spend most of their web time doing just three things: communicating, buying things and consuming content.

Social networking, emailing, blogging -- that's all communication.

Shopping on Amazon, downloading apps -- that's all buying things.

Watching videos, listening to audio podcasts, playing games, reading this article -- that's all content consumption.

People use search engines and other means to discover places to do these things. But Facebook envisions an end to all that. It envisions a world in which people use only one site or one app: Facebook.

What Facebook learned from its corporate headquarters

Facebook, like Google and other Silicon Valley giants, doesn't want its employees to leave. Instead, it wants them staying at work and spending all their time helping the company take over the world.

Facebook's brand-new building, which is near its previous headquarters in Menlo Park, is called MPK 20. The new campus, which was designed by famous architect is Frank Gehry, is smaller than the old campus. The goal is to connect them with an underground tunnel, turning them into a super headquarters.

Facebook's "office space" is 434,000 square feet on a single floor. It has the largest open floor plan in the world and nobody has an office. (Like Facebook itself, the headquarters represents the world's largest space of its kind and no one has privacy.)

The roof is covered by a nine-acre park, complete with walkways and gardens. You don't have to leave to go hiking, jogging or spend time outdoors.

The way Silicon Valley companies like Facebook keep employees at work is by taking things that normal people do in the wider world and bringing them into the "campus."

Facebook employees have no need to leave work to go to Starbucks. Facebook provides cafes and coffee stands. They have gyms, gourmet food courts serving any food you can imagine (and it's all free). There are rock climbing walls, workshops where employees can make things for fun, free bikes to use anytime, a music studio, barber shops and so on.

That's exactly the same strategy Facebook is executing to keep users from leaving, too. Find out what people are doing when they're not on Facebook, and bring those things inside Facebook.

Why you'll never have to leave Facebook

It became clear last week that Facebook is systematically taking activities that people do outside Facebook and bringing them into the social network.

Of course, Facebook is both building and buying the world of communication. The main and original purpose of Facebook itself was social networking -- the main form of communication.

Facebook has 1.4 billion monthly users. After spinning out and requiring a separate Messenger app, Messenger now has more than 600 million users. WhatsApp recently reported that it passed the 800 million user mark. Instagram has well over 300 million users.


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