The rumors have been confirmed – today, at its Connect 2021 event, Facebook has announced that it’s re-naming the company in order to better reflect its emerging focus.
From now on, Facebook’s overarching company name will be ‘Meta’.
To be clear, Facebook, the app, will remain, as will all of its other brand names and identities. But like Google switching to ‘Alphabet’ as a broader company title, Facebook’s various projects will now all come under the ‘Meta’ banner, reflecting its evolving focus on the next generation of digital connection.
As explained by Facebook:
“The metaverse will feel like a hybrid of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world. It will let you share immersive experiences with other people even when you can’t be together – and do things together you couldn’t do in the physical world. It’s the next evolution in a long line of social technologies, and it’s ushering in a new chapter for our company.”
Facebook’s broader business structure will now come under the Meta banner, with the company separating its operational streams into two segments: ‘Family of Apps’, being Facebook as we primarily know it, via Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, and ‘Reality Labs’, which will cover its VR and AR technologies and other evolving tech bets.
Facebook will also change its stock ticker from ‘FB’ to ‘MVRS’ on December 1st.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has outlined his vision for the new entity in a founder’s letter:
“From now on, we will be metaverse-first, not Facebook-first. That means that over time you won’t need a Facebook account to use our other services. As our new brand starts showing up in our products, I hope people around the world come to know the Meta brand and the future we stand for.”
You could read that as the Facebook brand has been tainted, and it needs a new start, while the entire re-structure also gives Zuckerberg an opportunity to distance himself from Facebook, and re-align his name with the evolving metaverse concept instead.
Maybe that also re-frames the company as more exciting and future-thinking, as opposed to the Facebook that’s been increasingly marred by controversy. It won’t lessen those controversies of course, but it could enable Facebook to better compartmentalize each element, which could help it re-position its metaverse push as something entirely new, and separate – and ideally, built with safety in mind, with the lessons learned from Facebook’s mistakes.
“I used to study Classics, and the word “meta” comes from the Greek word meaning “beyond”. For me, it symbolizes that there is always more to build, and there is always a next chapter to the story. Ours is a story that started in a dorm room and grew beyond anything we imagined; into a family of apps that people use to connect with one another, to find their voice, and to start businesses, communities, and movements that have changed the world.”
Yes, movements that have changed the world. Not necessarily good ones.
Overall, the re-brand is no big surprise, given that many had already deduced that ‘Meta’ was the likely new Facebook name, with Zuckerberg’s charitable initiatives already owning several ‘meta’ related brand titles and the company also buying up meta URLs in recent months, in anticipation of the announcement.
And in practice, it won’t mean any major change, other than flagging the company’s intention to make the evolving metaverse concept a much bigger focus, through more immersive technological advances and projects that will aim to make Facebook – sorry, ‘Meta’ – synonymous with the next stage of digital connection.
Will that work? Will re-naming the company in alignment with ‘the metaverse’ help Facebook own that space, and ensure optimal relevance for the next generation of digital consumers?
It certainly has the resources, but there will be various challenges too in seeing these things become a reality – virtual or otherwise.