Almanac

News - February 2, 2011

Facebook scoops up Menlo Park properties

• City finalizing paperwork for former Sun Micro campus sale.

by Sandy Brundage

As rumors swirled about social networking giant Facebook buying the former Sun Microsystems campus in Menlo Park, the company quietly bought 22 acres of business property near the campus.

Facebook purchased 312 and 314 Constitution Drive — neighbors to the former Sun campus — on Dec. 27, 2010, via an intermediary, Giant Properties LLC, listed at an address Facebook uses in Palo Alto, according to San Mateo County databases.

Meanwhile, "finalizing land use entitlements for a new tenant at Sun campus" appeared on the Menlo Park community development staff's "to do" list during a city budget presentation to the council on Jan. 28. That's as much information as anyone working for the city would reveal about Facebook's plans.

The move could be a boon to San Mateo County. Larry Stone, assessor for Santa Clara County where Facebook currently pays taxes, said the value of the company is its exponential growth. "Facebook from a property tax standpoint — their public profile is much more valuable. But their growth is phenomenal," he said, and provided the following figures, good through Jan. 1, 2010:

• In 2007: Facebook had an assessed business property value of $8.0 million, which includes computers and other equipment.

• In 2008, the value doubled to $16.7 million.

• In 2009, it nearly doubled again, to $30.2 million.

• In 2010, it more than doubled, to $63.4 million.

"They're not considered to be one of the major contributors to Santa Clara County business property tax right now," Mr. Stone said. "But if they keep growing the way they have been, they'll be a major player. Not unlike Google was, not unlike eBay was."

Facebook declined to discuss the purchases. The company has about 2,000 employees worldwide, and more than 500 million active users, according to spokesman Larry Yu.

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