Facebook feels confident it can address San Francisco's high-priced housing problem — and chief policy officer Elliot Schrage says it has to "if we're going to remain a company in Silicon Valley for the long term."
"Our position is that Silicon Valley has been this extraordinary engine of economic opportunity and if we can't solve the housing and transportation issues, Silicon Valley won't be Silicon Valley," Schrage said at the company's annual shareholders meeting. "These companies like ours will expand elsewhere. So we feel a real sense of urgency around that."
Schrage's impassioned comments came in response to investor questions about Facebook's forthcoming offices in San Francisco. The company's main campus will remain in Menlo Park.
Both cities are facing exorbitant housing prices and transportation failings, fueled by the growing ranks of tech companies. Real estate experts have predicted a mass exodus from Silicon Valley and into the middle of the country if things don't improve.
Facebook has dedicated more than $18 million dollars to affordable and mixed-use housing in Silicon Valley, Schrage said, and is working with private partners and local governments.
"We are late and frankly we have been slow — we are actually a relatively newcomer as a young company at only 15," Schrage said. "But I think it is fair to say we have really made an investment and we consider this an existential issue."
CEO Mark Zuckerberg fielded questions during Thursday's shareholder meeting on inappropriate content, digital payments and diversity, among other topics. Top executives recycled many of the same figures and statements from recent months, and some investors wouldn't have it.
One shareholder, before the question and answer portion, shouted from the audience her concerns with Zuckerberg's stewardship. She was escorted out, according to another shareholder who later defended the woman's comments.
Investors have called for better transparency — and in some cases, better leadership — after reports of widespread abuse on the platform.
Facebook is still reeling from instances of foreign election meddling and spikes in unsavory content like hard-to-detect hate speech. The site has made significant changes in recent months to its privacy policies, advertising model and content review systems.