Facebook is moving quickly to form its new Building 8 hardware team, the secretive skunkworks division it formed after poaching a high-level Google exec this month.
There is no actual Building 8 structure to serve as the group’s home base on Facebook’s campus yet, but the company is already well into a recruiting drive to enlist top talent.
The group, led by Regina Dugan, who worked at the US Department of Defense before Google, will focus on developing hardware and software products to advance Facebook’s mission of “connecting the world,” and recent job postings give us additional hints about what it’s up to.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that he envisions Facebook investing hundreds of people and hundreds of millions of dollars into Building 8’s ambitious research and development over the next few years. But the company has provided few details about exactly what kind of technology it will focus on, or about the breadth of the product line that it hopes to bring to market.
To judge by some of the new job listings, though, Facebook has big ambitions that go beyond one or two pet projects. The listing for a product-hardware lead, for example, refers to scaling “the organization to support multiple fast-paced product launches.”
Among the various positions Facebook is trying to fill at Building 8 are a chief operating officer and a head of creative, as well as business and technical people to create products “at the intersection of hardware, software, and content.”
Facebook is also looking to bring multiple “technical project leads” who will basically act as CEOs of mini startups.
Technical-project leads “are entrepreneurial engineers, scientists, and product developers, comfortable working with diverse multi-disciplinary teams, and with the demonstrated skill to formulate an effort from inception to product and handle the responsibilities typically associated with a CEO-level position in a technical start up,” the listing says.
That setup sounds very similar to Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, which Dugan previously led, as well as X, the Alphabet-owned labs whose disparate collection of projects include self-driving cars and airborne wind turbines.
Looking for ‘slightly impatient’ people
Although Building 8’s work won’t directly overlap with what other groups are already doing at Facebook, it will complement the company’s existing efforts in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and Oculus. Facebook plans to partner with external universities and businesses – several of the positions call for experience with Android and iOS smartphones – though it also wants people with experience shipping their own devices at scale.
Its hardware lead should have worked with micro-electro-mechanical systems, the tiny systems underpinning the accelerometer and gyroscopes that allow smartphones and other gadgets to determine their physical orientation.
Ultimately, Facebook wants people who will be able to hold to its “aggressive” fixed timelines and budgets, as Building 8 follows a “DARPA-style” development method similar to what Google aims for with its Advanced Technology and Projects group.
While Dugan led Google’s ATAP, she assembled a team that consisted of – in her own words – a “band of pirates trying to do epic s—.” At Facebook, the ideal colleague she’s looking for is defined as a “slightly impatient” individual “willing to face down their fear of failure to accomplish bold things,” according to the job listings.
Building 8’s head of creative, for example, needs to have more than 10 years of leadership experience at a global consumer-product company, and be “comfortable with uncertainty” with a “preferred desire to work in the formative part of product development through product shipment.”