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Facebook's New Conference, @Scale, Is All About the Next Billion Users

Facebook is prepping for when it's bigger -- much bigger.

Mike Isaac

In the spirit of — Facebook’s master plan to get the entire world online — the company is adding a new conference to its 2014 calendar.

Facebook will host @Scale for the first time later this month, a conference focused on open source software and the engineering challenges common when major tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter grow massive user bases. Facebook has hosted smaller, similar events in the past, but they’ve been limited in size and always focused on a single topic.

Facebook anticipates over 700 attendees for @Scale, which will cover three main pillars: Mobile, data and Web. Facebook won’t be selling products or making major announcements, said James Pearce, head of Open Source at Facebook. Instead, the idea is to bring together engineers with an interest in working together regardless of company affiliation.

“We accept that we don’t have a monopoly on all the smart people in Silicon Valley,” he said. “We don’t believe keeping these ideas and solutions proprietary is ultimately a win for us as an industry [either].”

Of course, buzzwords and phrases like “open source” and “mobile scale” don’t mean much to non-engineers, but Pearce believes that if you cut through the jargon, @Scale will ultimately provide a major benefit for everyday Facebook users, too.

“Our obligation to the people who use Facebook is that we’re always available,” he says. “To make sure that we are available regardless of the device that they’re using and the [network conditions]. Those things are underpinned with the technology we’re talking about at @Scale.”

Facebook is already focused on projects that reflect this mission., an initiative announced by Mark Zuckerberg last fall, includes a lofty goal to provide wireless Internet to everyone in the world. (More Internet users likely means more Facebook users, too.) The company also showcased the Innovation Lab — a controlled wireless zone where developers can test their apps under different network conditions — at its F8 developer conference in April. The lab is another tool Facebook is using to prep its product for emerging markets in Africa and South America.

Creating a Facebook product that works globally, regardless of the network environment, is essential to Facebook’s growth. @Scale, which will take place in San Francisco on Sept. 15, is another step in that direction. Jay Parikh, Facebook’s VP of infrastructure engineering, will provide a short keynote.

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