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Facebook is Building a Real Community in California To Test Whether People Love Tech Companies Enough To Live in Them ( 181

In Menlo Park, Calif., Facebook is building a real community and testing the proposition: Do people love tech companies so much they will live inside them? From a report: Willow Village will be wedged between the Menlo Park neighborhood of Belle Haven and the city of East Palo Alto, both heavily Hispanic communities that are among Silicon Valley's poorest. Facebook is planning 1,500 apartments, and has agreed with Menlo Park to offer 225 of them at below-market rates. The most likely tenants of the full-price units are Facebook employees, who already receive a five-figure bonus if they live near the office.

The community will have eight acres of parks, plazas and bike-pedestrian paths open to the public. Facebook wants to revitalize the railway running alongside the property and will finish next year a pedestrian bridge over the expressway. The bridge will provide access to the trail that rings San Francisco Bay, a boon for birders and bikers. Mr. Tenanes, Facebook's vice president for real estate, contemplates the audacity of building a city.

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Facebook is Building a Real Community in California To Test Whether People Love Tech Companies Enough To Live in Them

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  • by Digital Avatar ( 752673 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @12:53PM (#56297989) Journal

    ...we don't trust you to run a virtual community, so why the hell would any of us want to live in a REAL community under your control?

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @01:21PM (#56298223) Journal
      It'd be interesting to see the terms and conditions for living there. 24/7 surveillance in your own home? Sorry, I meant "The collection of a limited amount of data (=unlimited) that will help us improve the residents' experience (=experience will not be improved). Data may be shared with our select business partners (=everyone who pays)"
    • ...we don't trust you to run a virtual community, so why the hell would any of us want to live in a REAL community under your control?

      I'm sorry, what's that you're ranting about? I couldn't quite hear you over the shrieking noise of soul-crushing debt brought on by an insane real estate market.

      (There's nothing REAL about the justification for California housing costs, so you better fucking believe those who are forced to live there are going to jump all over this bargain.)

    • we

      Who the fuck is "we"?

      Because for most people, it never becomes an issue of questioning trust, the trust is implicit and any question raised is an annoyance.
      These sort of people far outnumber the pseudo-activist types like yourself, who somehow think that because they boycott a particular product, they are dealing a blow to "the bad guys" and somehow proliferating their view throughout society.

      In reality almost everyone else doesn't give a fuck and never will without profound social upheaval. Your "activism"

    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

      ...we don't trust you to run a virtual community, so why the hell would any of us want to live in a REAL community under your control?

      Obviously, it will be better for you if they have more control over you. Have you not been listening to the government?

  • Cult? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    How is working for these big CA tech companies any different from being in a cult at this point? You believe their ideology or at least pretend to; speak up and you will be fired. They already paid extra to keep you on a string so they could summon you whenever it was convenient for them. Now live on their property? Will they hand out free drinks next? (Read: DON'T DRINK IT.)

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @12:54PM (#56297999)

    company store days are comeing back and the irs can hold a big tax bill over your head as well for the real cost of your free housing. so jay you better be ready for the 80-90 hour work week.

  • I'd rather cycle in Chicago in the middle of winter than on a pristine cycle path in sunny California in a Facebook village for overpaid yuppies. The latter sounds like my personal idea of hell on Earth.

    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @01:17PM (#56298191) Journal

      I'd rather cycle in Chicago in the middle of winter than on a pristine cycle path in sunny California in a Facebook village for overpaid yuppies.

      As someone who has cycled in Chicago in the middle of winter AND on a pristine cycle path in sunny California, I can say with confidence that you are bullshitting. After about ten minutes of getting hit in the face with sleet and your bike sliding on icy streets and the hairs freezing in your nose and cars splashing a colloidal mixture of slush, road salt and filth onto you, it gets kind of old.

      Also, you're likely to find just as many overpaid yuppies in Chicago as you would in Menlo Park. If you've ever cycled down Halsted Street or Ashland near Division or Diversey & Sheffield, or Lincoln Ave toward downtown or Dearborn past Chicago Ave., the place is crawling with overpaid yuppies. The difference is that in California, you are more likely to see those yuppies wearing cropped t-shirts and short-shorts with their butt cheeks hanging out (even the women!) and that can make all the difference when it comes to quality of life.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As someone else who has done both, I'm with OP. I cycled up and down Halsted all winter long for years, dodging door, potholes, and other shit and had a blast. After living in the bay area for the last 10 years, I'll say fuck this place. It's sunny and still fucking cold and ain't nobody walking around with cropped t-shirts and short shorts like your fantasy. It's a bunch of androgynous ugly nerds with baggy hoodies who don't know shit.

        • Bullocks.

          The South Bay, down Facebook and Google way, is generally excruciatingly hot... usually at least 10, and often 15-20, degrees hotter than the city. I do usually have an emergency hoodie in the car when I drive down there, because I've lived in California long enough to know better than to not have an extra layer handy just in case. But I don't think I've had to break it out south of Redwood City or so in the last decade.

    • San Diego has plenty of tech/engineering/biomedical jobs, and their industry is not as obnoxiously cloying as the Bay Areas. Live in a cheaper neighborhood (read 105/113/114/119/120 ZIP codes), enjoy the weather, cycle year around.
  • The Truman Show! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toonces33 ( 841696 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @01:00PM (#56298051)

    Seriously - anyone who takes below-market housing from Facebook of all companies should expect a double-dose of data collection.

    • by dysmal ( 3361085 )

      Make sure you "LIKE" my new Converse shoes i just bought at the Facebook Marketplace!

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @01:00PM (#56298055)
    btw, has Zuck shown his face yet since the Cambridge Analytics debacle?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    There are tech companies that do this in India, one big gated community including housing and the office space. The folks that lived there seemed to enjoy it.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      We're on our way to making the area outside a gated community look just like it does in India, so I assume this will make the people here love that gated living just as much.

      • Great! Now we call all live in corporate burbclaves just like Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun, because totally were roadmaps rather than cautionary tales...

    • by tsstahl ( 812393 )

      Do the watchtowers and barbed wire face inward, or outward?

  • by Digital Mage ( 124845 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @01:04PM (#56298085)

    Most homes will be built near the corner of Cambridge and Analytica. The Home Owners Association will demand that none of the houses shall have locks and no windows will have blinds/drapes .

  • "...contemplates the audacity of building a city."
    Examples of audacity: sending people to Mars, sending a car into orbit, exploiting peoples' desire for social connection, putting pineapple on pizza
    Not an example of audacity: building yet another company town.

  • Real Plan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @01:08PM (#56298111)

    Invest a little money into poor communities buying up properties tax free
    Make new apartments and condo's reinvigorating a blight, tax free .. of course no one living there now can actually afford them
    Keep it on the books for 10 years, pricing all the poor people out, until its full of hipsters and yuppies, then sell for a massive profit and still not pay taxes on it []

    The federal tax bill passed at the end of December 2017 allows the Governor to designate eligible census tracts as Opportunity Zones. Investments made by individuals through special funds in these zones would be allowed to defer or eliminate federal taxes on capital gains.

  • 1) You get ostracized at 35 and removed at 42
    2) Local laws are contradictory
    3) You are treated as an infinite resource
    4) You lose all the freedom required to do your job
    5) Immigrants take your home after 8 months
    6) Everyone looks for the most superficial ways to show the world how smart they are all the time
  • Poll (Score:2, Funny)

    by coolmoe2 ( 3414211 )
    Should we allow men to request sleeping quarters with young boys.
  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @01:24PM (#56298257)
    I have seen that Black Mirror episode, why are they trying to LARP it?
  • I can't wait to see Zuckerberg personally do some community outreach: [] - South Park compilation :)))
  • I live in a city that was created back in the early 1900's by the railroad. They put their infrastructure here and then built a "planned community" around it. Today, CSX still uses the tracks here as a rail yard and we have a station stop that's used for the commuter rail system. But generally, the buildings the railroad originally built have all been re-purposed for other things and we have a self-sustaining town here.

    I think it's wishful thinking if they believe success in such an endeavor proves people

    • That was more of a planned suburb to create business for the railroad's suburban trains (or tram lines?). It wasn't 85% populated by railroad workers.
  • sign me up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <> on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @01:26PM (#56298269)
    So, live in a community which falls under the control of a company which is able to monitor and judge you based on what you do, say, visit, watch, associate with, and has the right to terminate you at will for violating whatever unspoken values they enforce? And is essentially run by teenagers who suddenly got rich, powerful, and more responsibility than they knew how to handle?

    Wait, and it comes with a 15% discount on their products? Sounds great!
    • It would be funny when Facebook comes up against California's (fairly strict) eviction laws. It might be an incentive to keep even opinionated employees on, otherwise their cute little company town might end up filled with disgruntled ex-employees who have lawyered up.
    • landlord tenant law say they can't kick you out that easy.

  • I have a name for it: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow

    Or is that already taken?

  • ...but this is taking "branding" to a truly disgusting level.

    "I refuse to belong to any club that would have me as a member." ~ Groucho

  • Everything old is new again. It's called a company town. Will they pay their employees who live there in Farmville points, only redeemable at the local company store?
    • More valuable than their employees' cash, they want more of their employees' time.

      • Yep, the US needs working hour/vacation time laws, even if that makes us only slightly more productive than other developed countries. Happiness > productivity.

  • Some people say a coder is made outta mud
    A poor coder's made outta hacking and fud
    Hacking and fud and scripts and caffeine
    A mind that's weak and a keyboard that's strong

    You code sixteen slocs, what do you get?
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Google, don't you call me 'cause I can't go
    I owe my soul to the company store

    I wake up in a basement where the sun doesn't shine
    I picked up my keyboard and walked in half past nine
    I hacked sixteen slocs of fine gui code
    And the manager said "well, bless my soul"

    You co

  • "The Bay Area's poorest..."

    Read: most affordable. Last I checked, the poor need to live somewhere as well.

    How many existing residents will be displaced if eminent domain (aka land theft) is used to build the thing. I bet the 15% of below-market-rate homes will still hold fewer people than the homes bulldozed to build this utopia.

  • Orwell rd 1984.

  • Like most Google projects, they'd have 250 houses in varying degrees of incomplete, fiber would be run to the opposite side of town, they would have neglected to lay the utility infrastructure, and kick everyone out in 6 months when they change remind everyone this was BETA.

    • If google did this

      How cute. Google already does. Only without the housing - they have homeless [] employees that live on campus [].

      Facebook at least wants to give the illusion that their employees are free to go as far as 100 ft to home. Actually, Google does have its own housing project [] but they seem to not be that interested.

  • by atrimtab ( 247656 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @01:46PM (#56298489)

    Think of all the cool experiments Facebook can do with real life people in real world boxes?

  • Please submit your suggestions using hash tag #DeleteFacebook winner will be announced during next Facebook shareholder meeting.

    - Fuckerville
    - Slavetown
    - Pwn3dville
    - New Pyongyang
    - Dusttopia
    - Stalkerville
    - Airstrip Two
    - Creepertown

  • Labor camps, like in the movie Angel City, existed to enslave and exploit workers. They can't afford to leave, had no one to contact for justice or protection.

  • by CaptnCrud ( 938493 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @02:12PM (#56298721)

    I have seen large companies that "own" small towns in the 70s-80's do this.

    This is how they try to get you in as a selling point, free in-house child care, discounted food, discounted gas, grocery stores and housing, company vehicle. Where they trick you is you won't see any real raises or employee growth and once you have a few kids the convenience is to good of a deal to walk away from, so your stuck there for another 15 or so years....

    Some places were very much like the movie the firm, as in, you really didn't want to leave under threat of the company "knowing" certain things about your lifestyle.

    I guess it's fine if you totally ok with that kind of lifestyle ...then again this was back when companies actually kept people until they retired, they may have wanted a slave but at least they kept you employed for ever...

  • Why stop there? Why not just go all the way and do dormitories? Workers could subsidize their living with being onsite 24-7 and agreeing to have the company monitor what they do.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What happens when the employee gets laid off or RIF'd?


    Obviously this is for management, not employees.

  • The idea is not new. Comrade Stalin has successfully implemented it already in 1935, it called GULAG. It is a good way to control your people.
  • All the free KoolAid you can drink.

  • The town where you have no privacy. It's surveillance capitalism at its epitomy.
  • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2018 @02:31PM (#56298875)
    What's the lease on these units? What happens if you quit? More importantly, what happens if you're fired/laid off/whatever? If the house is part of the employment is it factored into any severance packages? (If/when applicable.)

    Moving is already hell. Losing your job is already hell. Imagine being told to pack your things _and_ that you have 30 days to find a new place to live at the same time!
  • I know what a biker is, but a birder? Is it what you call someone who loves doing birdwatching?

    • Yeah now days I guess so no matter how stupid it sounds. Birdwatchers have been a thing for a long time so not sure why they feel the need to make up new terms.
      • Maybe because they feel the need to invent new words to own them and make sure older people don't understand them.

        Maybe we should call them rebranders instead of millenials.

  • What my grandparent's generation had to deal with is now new again Company Towns []
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's all contemplate the ramifications of this statement for a moment.

  • "Facebook is planning 1,500 apartments, and has agreed with Menlo Park to offer 225 of them at below-market rates."

    Oh Facebook has agreed to? That's nice of them.

    Menlo Park requires new residential developments of that side to reserve at least 15% of new units for below-market rates. Guess what 15% of 1,500 is?

  • When I read the headline, the image in my mind was a community built like an open plan office. All of the beds are in one or two huge rooms. If people snore, you can use headphones to block it out. Surrounding the giant shared bedrooms are a whole bunch of small rooms for changing or other activities of an intimate nature. There aren't nearly enough, so book early. Outside of that is a narrow strip of grass that they call a park.

  • I don't know who the singer is, but I have in my mind the chorus, "I sold mah soul to the Company Store". Toured an old mine once....they showed the ledger books and yes, you could live on the salary, but it was rigged that with holidays, major life events, etc, that you couldn't not be in debt.
    • >I don't know who the singer is, but I have in my mind
      > the chorus, "I sold mah soul to the Company Store".

      Actually, it's "I owe my soul to the company store". A popular version of "Sixteen Tons" was done by Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1955, hitting #1 on the Billboard charts [] The original was written and sung by Merle Travis in 1946.

  • You know those people ( most of the nerds ? ) that advocate buses as means to get from point A to point B ?
    This must be their dream. Imagine... no more traffic, planet saved, and all that ? What you say nerds ? -1 ?

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."