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Escape from Silicon Valley: Facebook to hire engineers in Philly and a few other regions

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg named Philadelphia among cities where it will hire staff, in part as a way to diversify from its crowded California base. It also wants to allow more people to work at home to slow down the rate at which Facebook employees have been quitting.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergRead moreMark Lennihan / AP

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that the social media giant will immediately step up hiring in Philadelphia and three other cities to tap new engineering and operating staff away from its crowded Menlo Park headquarters in northern California.

The first hires will be for experienced engineers by July 1, Lori Matloff Goler, Facebook’s staff acquisition chief, added in a Facebook post.

The company plans to “immediately tap into talent pools in places like Portland, San Diego, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh,” and later in Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver, Zuckerberg said in a video message to employees that was livestreamed on his personal page.

Many more of Facebook 45,000 employees — perhaps half — will also be allowed to work remotely on a permanent basis, he told the workers. Earlier this year, the company told staff and contractors they can work from home until the end of this year, part of the company’s compliance with anti-coronavirus shutdown orders in California and other states.

In the video, Zuckerberg said the move to step up at-home labor was intended to slow the rate at which Facebook employees have been quitting.

Many in the San Francisco-San Jose area, including Menlo Park, have complained that the rapid growth of Facebook and high salaries paid by it and other software giants, combined with local government policies that slow new development, have driven housing and other costs to unaffordable highs in the region.

Similarly, some officials in Philadelphia and other cities warned, when Amazon was considering whether to locate a second headquarters, that its rapid hiring could inflate housing costs. Such hiring, analysts said, might also drive up pay for engineers at Comcast, administrators at the University of Pennsylvania, and selected employees at other large employers.

In his remarks, Zuckerberg said a move away from tech hubs would help Facebook to diversify its workforce.

But Facebook plans to spread the impact over a large area. The company will focus on hiring people within a “four-hour radius” of Philadelphia and the other selected cities, Zuckerberg said.

A “four-hour radius” of Philly, of course, would include most of the New York and Washington metro areas.

The company’s website currently makes no mention of any job openings in Philadelphia. By contrast, Facebook lists 214 job openings at its offices in New York, 79 in Washington, and 23 in Pittsburgh.