Back in 2004, Facebook was still a post-dormroom project on wobbly colt legs, being coded by true believers, pulling all-nighters from rented living rooms around Palo Alto. Now, the company has 1,200 employees, recruited and supported by a professional human resources manager, and lives in a 150,000-square-foot headquarters that is more reminiscent of an early Google or Microsoft than a scrappy start-up. “Yeah, we’ve come along way,” says CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
But the spirit of the original Facebook — do things fast, take risks, don’t be afraid to break things to make them better — still lives on, even as their surroundings have become more grown-up. “We’re an entrepreneurial company,” says Andrew Bosworth, a coding legend who runs a “boot camp” for new engineers. “This place is fast paced and free form. If you’re not coming up as a new ideas, then you’re just along for the ride.” The working environment is designed for, and modified by, people who toil long hours (all-nighters are still routine) and find that creative, often irreverent, self-expression to be as important as the copious free food.