Facebook is growing its head count by as much as 14 percent according to a new Reuters report. It has 1,200 open job listings on its website, mostly for virtual reality roles with Oculus Rift. It’s also hiring for its drones, data centers, and Atlas advertising efforts. None of the roles mentioned by Reuters support Facebook’s core business: Its social media application. Facebook is pulling a Google, expanding into new industries to protect itself.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg placed a sizeable bet that virtual reality will be the next big thing in mobile computing when he bought Oculus Rift for $2 billion in March last year. That’s exactly what he told media, explaining, “When you put on the goggles, it’s different from anything I have ever experienced in my life.” Oculus has stayed pretty quiet since coming under Facebook’s purview, but Reuters analysts suspect the big staff up in positions like logistics and global supply management mean the company is getting ready to launch to the public.
If you don’t follow the company closely, you might be confused at the positions Facebook is hiring for to support its drone technology development: Roles like thermal engineering and aircraft electronics. Remember Internet.org, Facebook’s big ambitious project to bring Internet connections to parts of the developing world? That’s what it hopes to use drones for, and it needs people with expertise in these areas to make that happen. If Internet.org succeeds it will ultimately benefit Facebook. Reliable, fast internet in more parts of the world — the two thirds of the population currently without Internet — likely means far more Facebook (and WhatsApp and Instagram) users.
In the last few years, Facebook has moved quickly and deftly into these new business endeavors, not content to rest on its cooling social media laurels. It has grown largely through acquisition, snapping up separate, independent companies and product like Oculus, Atlas Ad Server, WhatsApp, and Instagram, instead of trying to build them from scratch. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is investing in Facebook’s future stability and growth, a smart move given the fact that its core social product has faded in relevance with younger populations. Eventually teens grow up and become the new adults, slowly decreasing Facebook’s power over time.
It needed to diversify to ensure its future.