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Facebook likes Big Apple for engineering office

Facebook expands presence in New York City with an event trumpeting the coming launch of a new engineering office designed to help promote the creation of technical jobs.

NEW YORK--Facebook is expanding its presence in New York City with an event trumpeting the coming launch of a new engineering office here designed to help promote the creation of technical jobs.

Present at the invite-only event at Facebook's Manhattan offices were New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, and Facebook Vice President of Engineering Mike Schroepfer.

Schroepfer explained that a big part of his job is finding the smartest and most entrepreneurial jobs all over the world. About 15 months ago, Facebook decided to branch out from its Palo Alto, Calif., headquarters and expand with an engineering bureau in Seattle, which focused on projects like video calling, a rewrite of the mobile site, and tools to monitor data centers.

Based on the success of that, the team plotted where else in the world they could go, and after a detailed analysis, New York City was chosen.

"This isn't a satellite office but a core part of our engineering stack," Schroepfer said.

The center is set to open in early 2012 and will start accepting job applications immediately. The office will be run by Serkan Piantino, an engineering manager at Facebook who previously oversaw the teams behind Facebook's News Feed and Timeline features.

"The Big Apple is a world-class place for building new technology," Piantino remarked. "Both New York and Facebook share this energy that is hard to describe."

Since moving here in 2007, Facebook has about 100 people in its New York office, mostly in sales and marketing. By contrast, the social network's Palo Alto headquarters has approximately 3,000 employees since launching seven years ago.

When asked how many of those employees are engineers, Sandberg specified that Facebook does not break down employment numbers by department.

"We will hire as much talent as we can," Sandberg said, but she didn't say whether Facebook would be looking for more office space in Manhattan. (She also said clearly at the start of the Q&A portion of the event that Facebook "will not be talking about the IPO today.")

Sandberg noted that technical jobs in New York City are up 30 percent over the last five years, which she credited to Bloomberg's efforts.

Bloomberg also pointed out that this is Facebook's first engineering office that's not on the West Coast, adding that Facebook's decision to move eastward is "conclusive proof" that New York City is on its way to becoming "the world's No. 1 hub for information technology and social media."

Bloomberg cited several other major, "homegrown" social-media companies that were founded in New York, including Foursquare, Etsy, and Gilt Groupe, among others.

"I really do encourage all tech companies to do what Facebook is doing now, and make New York City your hub of operations," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg also warned, "Don't wait until your competitors are already here."

Schumer also sang Facebook's praises and welcomed the social network's newest venture in New York, remarking that "it's cliche to say that a company has changed the way in which we live," to which Sandberg quickly quipped, "Go ahead, say it."

Schumer admitted that New York City is still second to the Bay Area when it comes to technology and related venture capital, noting that more work needs to be done if New York wants to become the tech capital of the country. Nevertheless, he sees Facebook's latest move as evidence that New York is "turning the corner" in this field.

"New York is pleased to call Facebook a friend," Schumer said while tossing in a few other Facebook-related puns, admitting that "subtlety" is not his middle name.

This story was originally posted at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Facebook announces open engineering office in New York City."