The Raiders "LIKED" their visit to Facebook headquarters. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Recently, eight Raiders players visited Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. RB Rashad Jennings, FBs Jon Hoese and Jamize Olawale, WR Tray Session, TE Richard Gordon, G Jason Foster, and DBs Brandian Ross and Cory Nelms spoke with a Facebook team about how they utilize social media, learned about the post-football career opportunities at Facebook and toured the large, open campus.
"We had eight players come down from the Raiders to hang out," said Brandon Gayle, Strategic Partnership Development, Athletes and Sports, at Facebook. "What we really wanted to do was spend time getting feedback from them on how they use Facebook, how they engage in social media more broadly and also spend time helping them think through post-career opportunities in the NFL, whether that's careers here at Facebook or sports more broadly. Just be a resource since we're so close to Raider Nation."
The players started their visit with a sit-down with members of many different departments at Facebook. Both the Raiders players and Facebook were able to ask each other questions, solicit feedback, and get a greater understanding of each other. "We had a lot of feedback and communication with the product management about the difference between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram," said Jennings. "We got to express some of the buzz we felt and they got to educate us on how we can use it better. I think it went well."
Ross hopes that some of their suggestions show up on the Facebook platform in the future. "We first came in and we did a Q&A with some employees here," said Ross. "They were very helpful. They took our feedback very positively, I think. Hopefully, we see some changes on Facebook that we all suggested."
The Facebook team was impressed with the Raiders insights on social media. "I think the product feedback was great," said Gayle. "I think as we try to refine our product and improve the way they use Facebook and get them things that are more easy to get them closer to their fans, I think the feedback was invaluable. And then from a career standpoint, hopefully they found the information the folks in HR shared and the information we shared about thinking about opportunities post-football useful."
The eight players spent time with the Facebook team discussing how they use social media and improvements they'd like to see to the Facebook platform. Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Raiders also had an opportunity to learn about opportunities post-football. The players were reminded to take advantage of opportunities during their career to better set them up for success in the future. And that was exactly what the eight players were doing – taking advantage of meeting and learning from a hugely successful company near their workplace.
"This is a great opportunity," said Jennings. "While I'm over here on the West Coast, I'm making it a point, after I take care of what I need to on the field with my extra work, to network with some of these innovative companies. So I'm really enjoying what the West Coast has been offering me so far."
Ross was on the same page with his teammate. "I like learning new things, how things operate," said Ross. "I like meeting new people, networking, and this was the perfect opportunity to step out into the social networking world and just learn more and expand and meet new people who can maybe help me in the future."
The Raiders finished their visit with a tour of the campus. They were incredibly impressed. "[Their reaction] was pretty similar to my reaction when I first started here at Facebook – kids in a candy store," said Gayle. "Our campus is amazing and I think the ability to take them around and show them how open it is and some of the cool stuff we have, whether it's our sweet shop or open cafeteria, was really great."
"This is like heaven on Earth," said Ross. "They have free food, sweets; it's a very laid back atmosphere, but you can tell everyone enjoys their job and they work really hard to make Facebook the best product they possibly can."
Jennings raved about the Facebook campus. "If nobody has seen it, they should get out here," said Jennings. "It's like an adult Disneyworld. It's really fun. It's a college atmosphere with adults and I love the working atmosphere. Its something I could possibly look at interning at."
During their tour, the players were able to interact with some of the Raiders fans on the Facebook campus. One in particular, Rafael Pantoja, came to work ready for the visit in Raiders gear. "It was awesome," said Pantoja. "I had actually heard, word-of-mouth, that the Raiders might be coming and I got an email last night, so I decided to bring my Raiders gear, my season ticket pass and got a pennant early in the morning so I could have the guys sign it. It was awesome. We have a very laid back culture here. We work hard, but we kick back and just having the Raiders here just adds to that culture."
Jennings, who had the initial idea to visit Facebook headquarters, considered the day a success. "I think it was a huge success," said Jennings. "A couple of the guys came out, had fun, got a chance to meet some of the minds behind Facebook and the operations and network. Get away from football a little bit and build our connection in the riding the bus, talking about life. Those type of reoccurrences help out a lot on the football field. I think this visit was a success."