Facebook may draw tech workers to NYC

Decision to open engineering office in the city could help other tech firms

Facebook's decision to establish an engineering office in New York City may make it easier for other high-tech firms to recruit people who might be more likely to consider Silicon Valley over the Big Apple, according to some tech firms in the city.

Facebook late last week said it will open the engineering office early next year. It is now advertising for New York City-specific jobs.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company isn't saying how many employees the office will ultimately have. Facebook has around 2,000 employees, but has previously confirmed plans to expand by nearly 10,000 employees by 2017.

In October, Twitter opened a New York City office with 40 employees, including engineers and designers, and said it plans to continue hiring.

The Big Apple tech hiring market is competitive because of a growing number of start-ups, including firms such as Foursquare, the location-based service; Etsy, a marketplace; and Turntable, a music service.

Tarek Pertew, who co-founded Silicon Alley Labs, a startup that has organized job fairs for the tech sector, believes Facebook's move will increase the percentage of people working in New York City tech compared to other industries. That could help the tech sector get the same kind of attention now given to the city's large finance, media, and fashion industries.

Facebook will "help define NYC as a strong destination for many engineers," said Pertew.

Eduardo Frias, the senior vice president of engineering at Ideeli, a New York-based flash retailer, said Facebook's decision "just validates the viability of the East Coast as a destination for top tech talent."

Frias, whose firm is also hiring, believes his company will benefit from the attention Facebook brings.

According to New York City economic development officials, about 90,000 people are employed in high-tech in the city.

New York City also has an ambitious project to build an applied sciences campus on city-owned land. It's offering the land and up to $100 million in capital to a university, or group of universities, that submits the strongest proposal.

The universities that recently submitted request for proposals include: Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Cornell University and Stanford, all in conjunction with other schools.

The proposals ranged in size from a 400,000-square-foot development to projects with more than 2 million square feet. The city hopes to break ground by 2014, according to an economic development spokesperson.

Facebook lists 16 job openings for New York City on its site. The initial hurdle for applying is an on-line coding test.

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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