The US tech giant has had offices in the UK for 10 years, but its expansion marks a vote of confidence in the UK amid the uncertainty of Brexit.
By the end of next year, Facebook said it would employ more than 2,300 people in the UK and more than half of those at the London site would focus on engineering, making it the company’s biggest engineering hub outside the US.
The Frank Gehry-designed offices in Rathbone Place, just off Oxford Street, will also house developer, marketing and sales teams.
It will also be home to LDN_LAB, a scheme under which tech startups will be invited to take part in three-month programmes designed to help accelerate their development. Facebook will be looking for an initial five to six startups to join the first programme with applications starting on Monday. The company’s engineering, product and other experts will give their time to support a planned 20 startups next year.
Nicola Mendelsohn, vice-president of Facebook’s European operations, said: “Today’s announcements show that Facebook is more committed than ever to the UK and in supporting the growth of the country’s innovative startups.
“The UK’s flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem and international reputation for engineering excellence makes it one of the best places in the world to build a tech company. And we’ve built our company here – this country has been a huge part of Facebook’s story over the past decade, and I look forward to continuing our work.”
The chancellor, Philip Hammond, said: “The UK is not only the best place to start a new business, it’s also the best place to grow one. It’s a sign of confidence in our country that innovative companies like Facebook invest here.”
Facebook’s bet on London comes after Amazon opened a new HQ in the capital this summer, where it said it would double the number of R’n’D staff to 900. It expected to expand its UK workforce to 24,000 by the end of this year.
Google has, meanwhile, confirmed plans to build a new head office in London’s King’s Cross district and create 3,000 jobs. The 11-storey “landscraper”, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the man behind the new London bus and the 2012 Olympic cauldron, will be as long as the Shard is tall. It forms part of Google’s London campus, which will house 7,000 employees.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The emphasis on engineering and the 800 new jobs being created [by Facebook] shows London remains at the forefront of global innovation. What’s more, the launch of the company’s incubator is set to play a crucial role in attracting vital talent to London and will help to pave the way for the next generation of successful startups.”