Mark Zuckerberg (Robert Scoble photo/November 2010)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in Seattle today, visiting the company’s fledgling office across the street the Pike Place Market — its only major engineering center outside of its Palo Alto headquarters, with about 40 people.

Before speaking at a tech talk/recruiting event for local software engineers this evening, Zuckerberg sat down with a small group of reporters and talked about the company’s presence in the Seattle region. The company says it was inspired to open the office here after noticing that it was hiring people from Seattle and moving them down to Palo Alto.

“There’s so many good engineers up here, largely from Microsoft and Amazon traditionally, and then Google a bit more recently,” Zuckerberg said, adding that “there’s a really good startup scene up here, as well.”

Of course, positive comments like that are to be expected from a CEO whose company is competing for top talent and looking to make nice with a region where it’s expanding. But Zuckerberg seemed to mean it, and he pointed to areas where the Seattle office is starting to have an impact on the broader company.

Facebook’s Seattle office is “starting to get to the scale where we’re attracting really good people and we’re starting to lead a bunch of projects from out here.” He cited Facebook’s recently launched unified mobile site as an example, and also “a cool thing next week that you guys will have to stay tuned on.”

Asked about the company’s growth plans and noted that Facebook is more focused on finding the top engineers, as opposed to growing for the sake of it. He pointed to the massive growth years experienced by companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft at different points in their history, and said Facebook isn’t looking to follow suit.

“I really just don’t think a culture can sustain that,” he said.

Facebook is one in a wave of companies from California that have opened engineering offices in the Seattle region over the past year — including, Zynga, and Hulu — contributing to increased demand for top tech talent.

FOLLOW-UP: Facebook’s Zuckerberg: TV, books, movies next in line for social disruption

Note: The photo of Zuckerberg above was taken by Robert Scoble last November.

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  • Guest

    Did Mr. Zuckerberg address the elephant in the room? That is to say, did he field any questions about Google’s +1 service, which pundits predict will MySpace Facebook within two years?

    I know I wouldn’t want to work at a company that’s about to be MySpaced before it IPOs.

    • Jeff Rodenburg

      Elephant in the room? How about letting the elephant get off the press release, which is all the Google Plus stuff amounts to at the moment.

      • Guest

        Google+ is live. I’m using it right now, Jeff. It’s basically everything Facebook does well (sharing, chat) without anything it does poorly (games, ads). I don’t work for Google or for Facebook, Jeff and Sarah.

        • Jeff Rodenburg

          I’m using it as well. I find it an interesting way of grouping contacts, although content sharing as useful functionality remains to be seen (it’s a ghost town right now in terms of content.)

          While competing on social, this isn’t going to bring Facebook to it’s knees anytime soon.  Being “myspaced” has to do with terrible execution, not existence in the social networking space, and Facebook executes quite well.

          Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Hopefully, FB gets a run for their money, as we’ll all benefit.

          • Guest

            Myspace continued to dominate the social networking market for 5 years after Facebook opened up to non-college users, the same people who ruined Myspace with their inane, uneducated ramblings and postings.

            I don’t see a long-term future for services like Facebook that only exist to provide an identity and a private means of syndication. Developing a social network is rather like developing a free webmail product or an instant-messaging service: it’s a good compliment to an existing experience, but as a standalone business it’s simply not viable. Google+ may not make a ton of money, but as a complement to the millions of Gmail users and the billions of Google web search users, it may be a nice added feature.

            Buying into Facebook today, whether as an investor or as an engineer, is like investing in AOL around 1998. Sure, that’s where all the people are, but where will they go in five years’ time?

          • Jeff Rodenburg

            I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but you might re-consider some of the basis for this argument.

            If Facebook really just took the inane, uneducated users from MySpace, from where are the users for Google Plus going to originate? Making a correlation that Facebook users are somehow lesser in stature than future users of Google Plus is folly. Myspace, Facebook, Google plus — there’s a place for someone to enter their status; the feature won’t make anyone smarter or less educated.

            On social network development equating to an add-on, the implication is that it’s the tail in a dog-tail relationship.  I’m not one of them but for many users, it’s the other way around — social networks are the dog, and other services (mobile, computing, etc.) are the tail.  Users are seeking out the features of FB and social networking in general. It’s not a passive activity, nor do I suspect Google to believe that to be the case, either.

            I disagree with the AOL comparison, because AOL wasn’t out-featured — the technology changed (dial-up vs. broadband adoption.)  A dominant incumbent is usually only upended when there is significant disruption in the market. To basically be out-executed at a feature level, the comparison I would draw is Microsoft-Apple, where Apple took advantage of a hideous Windows Vista OS.  But again, that’s a case of poor execution.

            With Facebook, I really don’t see them making it that easy for their competitors.

            Good thoughts, though — challenging the incumbents is good for the soul.  :-)

          • Guest

            I agree that “the features of FB and social networking in general” are in demand right now, but what is the value of a site which _only_ provides those features? Why would I integrate my web site with Facebook when I could integrate any one of dozens of identity providers? What is the value of Facebook’s identity provisioning when any company, large or small, can enter the space? For how much longer will we continue to trust companies to keep our information secure while their business is to sell it to advertisers?

            Jeff, my main concern is that Facebook is investing hundredmillions of dollars in recruiting top engineering talent to build what is essentially a commodity product. A “Share” button doesn’t require a superstar engineer to build. A private messaging system isn’t worth $100 billion. A login system isn’t as disruptive as TechCrunch would have us believe.

            Truly disruptive technologies will rid us of the “everyone must go to the same web site” mantra that has resulted in every social networking site in the past 14 years. All have risen and fallen because they failed to add value.

    • Sarah

      Which “pundits”? Methinks you work at Google :)

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