Chancellor George Osborne says Facebook London engineering office is “a vote of confidence for the capital and the country.”
Facebook has opened its new engineering office in London, its first such facility outside the US. The team of nearly 20 engineers will work on mobile, platform and machine learning products.
The social network said that London was chosen because it could provide access to the most talented engineers in the world and would provide a location where other engineers would want to join them.
Speaking at the opening, Chancellor George Osborne said that the company’s decision to locate in London was a “vote of confidence in our capital and our country.”
Facebook London Engineering Office
“It is fantastic that Facebook, one of the world’s leading technology companies, has chosen London as its first major engineering hub outside of the US,” said Osborne. “This reflects the attractiveness of London, its culture, its infrastructure and its people, but also the hard work that the British Government has put in to make sure that the UK becomes the technology hub for Europe.
“No British Government has worked harder to place technology and innovation at the heart of its policy agenda and this announcement today is a reflection of that.”
Osborne cited the work done to promote Tech City, the overhaul of the national curriculum to include computer programming and the implementation of the “world’s most ambitious open data policy” as evidence that London was “the fastest growing technology cluster in the world.”
American Invasion, Local Recruitment
“We’re incredibly deliberate about how we open new engineering offices,” said Facebook Vice President of Engineering Mike Schroepfer, who explained that as soon as they started looking for a new location, “it became clear London was ahead of the pack.” Schroepfer said that the company was prepared to invest in the new office, but added that there were no plans for UK or London-specific features.
The team will be headed by Philip Su, who previously worked in Facebook’s engineering office in Seattle. Su said that he “jumped at the chance” to come to London. Twelve engineers from the US will join him, while a handful of graduates from UK universities have been recruited.
Su said that London had the world’s second largest concentration of third party developers and said that the amount of PHP research in local academic institutions was a factor in Facebook’s decision.
Quality Not Quantity
He added that he didn’t anticipate dramatic growth, but that Facebook will continually look towards the UK and Europe for additions to its team, which wants to forge a reputation for creating quality products.
The office has already released a number of features, but Su said that the last of the 12 engineers who came from the US had only arrived two and a half weeks ago and that his team “was only just getting started.”
Speaking at the Covent Garden-based office, which boasts exposed brick walls and picturesque panoramas of the capital (including Google’s nearby offices), Schroepfer said that morale was still high despite the aftermath of Facebook’s initial public offering in May.
“It’s never fun when the press speak negatively,” he told TechWeekEurope. “A lot of us take this personally because all believe in Facebook.”
However he said that nothing had changed because it just wanted to make quality products and it really hurt if people disliked them.
“The world is really yet to see our amazing products,” he said.
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