Facebook giving free Portals to employees for coronavirus remote work

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the F8 Facebook Developers conference on April 30, 2019 in San Jose, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Facebook is giving away free Portal video chat devices to employees who request them, the company confirmed Wednesday, while it shifts to remote work over COVID-19 coronavirus fears. The move was previously reported by Protocol.

Facebook offers several models of Portal, which lets people conduct video chats through a small screen with camera or directly through their TV sets, ranging in price from $129 to $279. The product was first introduced in 2018, but hasn’t taken off among consumers yet. 

Companies are increasingly asking employees and contractors to stay home as the new coronavirus quickly spreads throughout the United States. Last Thursday, Facebook told employees in the San Francisco Bay Area to work remotely after the state reported a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

Facebook has thousands of employees across the region and several offices, including its Menlo Park, California headquarters. In total, the company has nearly 45,000 employees. 

A large number of employees will now rely on video-chatting and messaging services in order to continue their day-to-day tasks. That’s led to a business boost for videoconferencing companies such as Zoom, which has already brought in more active users in 2020 than it did in all of 2019 due to the crisis. 

– CNBC’s Salvador Rodriguez contributed to this report. 

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