Facebook's Plan to Beat Google: Sweet Offices, More Startups

The social network wants to hold on to its scrappy roots

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A $1.5 billion wad of cash from Goldman Sachs is burning a hole in Facebook's pocket, and new details have emerged about how they want to spend it. In a plan to up the ante in their high-stakes poker game with Google, the social network is planning to open posh new offices and to acquire up to 20 new startups to fill them with fresh ideas. It's a continuation of Facebook's recent strategy to woo Silicon Valley's top talent and treat them like royalty. "We’ve built a culture that supports entrepreneurs," Facebook's head of business development Vaughan Smith told Reuters. "And it’s working incredibly well."

Facebook's acquisition strategy so far reflects a commitment to beef up the site's design and mobile offerings. In the past year, the company has acquired design-related startups Sofa and Push Pop Press as well as the group messaging service Beluga, some features of which will show up in the recently announced Facebook Messenger. Facebook also acquired Snaptu, a mobile development startup that likely played a role in the new "Facebook for Every Phone" initiative. The renewed focus on mobile and design comes as competition between Facebook and Google is really starting to heat up. Google recently redesigned much of their front end with the launch of Google+, their Facebook equivalent, and CEO Eric Schmidt has been talking about the search companies laser targeted focus on mobile for a while.

Google has much deeper pockets than Facebook, so the Facebook is also looking at other ways to win people over. Based on recently construction plans recently filed with the city of Menlo Park, one of those ways includes a new campus that Silicon Valley's Mercury News describes as "a Google-style, amenity-rich complex." With 20 new acquisitions in store for this year, Facebook wants to hold on to that startup feel. Mike Swift reports:

The East Campus and West Campus will boast a main cafe styled by Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors of New York, as well as a two-story projection screen in the central courtyard of the East Campus, laundry services, an open pit barbecue and boutique coffee stand, and even a doctor's office.

Facebook plans to install garage doors throughout the complex to echo a Silicon Valley touchstone -- the startup garage -- as a symbol of the creative, collaborative and scrappy.

As The New York Times reported in May, Facebook doesn't necessarily acquire companies for their products; it wants their talent. The company's more aggressive acquisition strategy coupled with the sweet new campus to house new hires show that's continuing. As one analyst told Reuters, "Facebook is just trying to get the smartest people possible in any way it can."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.