Facebook has confirmed its need for more living space after the social networking giant said that has acquired the 57-acre former Sun Microsystems campus in Menlo Park, California.

The site was formerly owned by Sun Microsystems and Facebook will use it as its future world headquarters.

The company also revealed that it has bought two neighbouring parcels across the highway and a few blocks west to use if more expansion is required in the coming years. In all, Facebook will have a total of about 79 acres in Menlo Park.

HQ Summer Move

Facebook made the announcement before a horde of media people at Menlo Park City Hall. Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman said Facebook would probably make the 10-mile move north during June and July this year.

The deal was described a sale leaseback, which entails a 15-year lease from Oracle with an option to purchase the property after five years, Ebersman said. Terms were not disclosed.

Facebook will keep its current location in Palo Alto, but the Menlo Park campus will become its headquarters.

After it is relocated, the company will live about 4 miles south of Oracle, the world’s second-largest software company. Both enterprises will share the San Francisco Bay as its backdrop.

The 11-building Sun campus has been vacant for most of the last few months after Oracle acquired Sun in January 2010. Sun had employed about 2,000 people on the site, which is capable of accommodating around 3,000 employees.

Growing Venture

Facebook currently employs about 1,400 people in Palo Alto and a total of 2,000 globally. Like numerous other Web 2.0 companies, it is in a hiring mode.

A public clue to all of this turned up last month in an agenda item for a committee hearing on the Menlo Park city budget, which involved “finalising land use entitlements for a new tenant at Sun campus.”

Other local sources not affiliated with Facebook – including one of the contractors who will be refurbishing the campus – had confirmed the acquisition earlier to eWEEK, although due diligence in the transaction apparently was still being performed last week.

Two days after Christmas 2010, Facebook quietly acquired two neighbouring properties to the former Sun campus, 312 and 314 Constitution Drive. San Mateo County property records indicate the land was bought by a shell company, Giant Properties LLC, which lists the address Facebook uses in Palo Alto.

The former Sun campus at 17 Network Circle was built by Sun in the early 1990s and was the site of much of the company’s Java, server and mobile applications research and development. All of the company’s marketing groups were located there, as well as an impressive executive conference center.

Facebook’s current headquarters is a former Hewlett-Packard building located a few blocks from the Stanford University campus in a residential neighbourhood of Palo Alto. The company moved into that building in July 2009 from its former offices in downtown Palo Alto, where it had been for three years.

Chris Preimesberger

Editor of eWEEK and repository of knowledge on storage, amongst other things

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