Facebook is now called Meta, the company said Thursday, in a new branding that focuses on building the “metaverse,” a shared virtual environment that bets it will be the successor to mobile internet.
The name change comes as the world’s largest social media company battles criticism from lawmakers and regulators over its market power, algorithmic decisions, and policing abuse of its services.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at the company’s live-stream virtual and augmented reality conference, said the new name reflects his investment work in the metaverse, rather than his namesake social media service, which will continue to be called Facebook.
Metaverse is a term coined in the dystopian novel “Snow Crash” three decades ago that is now gaining a buzz in Silicon Valley. It generally refers to the idea of a shared virtual domain that can be accessed by people using different devices.
“Right now our brand is so closely tied to a product that it can’t represent everything we do today, let alone in the future,” Zuckerberg said.
The company, which has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality, said the change will bring its various applications and technologies together under a new brand. He said he would not change his business structure.
The tech giant, which reports around 2.9 billion monthly users, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years from global lawmakers and regulators.
In the latest controversy, whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked documents she said showed the company chose profit over user safety. Haugen has testified in recent weeks before a subcommittee of the US Senate and lawmakers in the UK Parliament. Zuckerberg said earlier this week that the documents were being used to paint a “false picture.”
The company said in a blog post that it intends to start trading under the new ticker symbol it has reserved, MVRS, on December 1. On Thursday, she unveiled a new sign at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Replacing her thumbs-up. Logo “J’aime” with a blue infinity shape.
Facebook shares closed up 1.5% at $ 316.92 (around 23,700 rupees) on Thursday.
Facebook said this week that its Facebook Reality Labs hardware division, which is responsible for the AR and VR efforts, will become a separate reporting unit and that its investment in it will reduce this year’s total operating profit by approximately $ 10 billion (approximately Rs. 74,795 crore).
This year, the company created a product team in this metaverse-focused unit and recently announced plans to hire 10,000 employees in Europe over the next five years to work on this effort.
In an interview with tech publication The Information, Zuckerberg said he had not considered stepping down as CEO and had not yet thought “very seriously” about splitting that unit.
The division will now be called Reality Labs, chief Andrew “Boz” Bosworth said Thursday. The company will also stop using the Oculus brand for its VR headsets, calling them “Meta” products instead.
The name change, the plan of which was first reported by The Verge, is a significant rebranding for Facebook, but not the first. In 2019, she launched a new logo to create a distinction between the company and its social app.
The company’s reputation has taken multiple hits in recent years, especially when it comes to its handling of user data and monitoring abuses such as health misinformation, violent rhetoric and hate speech. The United States Federal Trade Commission also filed an antitrust complaint alleging anti-competitive practices.
“While this will help alleviate the confusion by distinguishing Facebook’s parent company from its founding app, a name change does not suddenly erase the systemic issues plaguing the company,” said Mike Proulx, research director at the firm. Forrester market research.
Plans to phase out Facebook’s name, even from products like the Portal video calling device, show the company is keen to prevent unprecedented scrutiny from harming the rest of its apps, said Prashant Malaviya, professor of marketing at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.
“Without a doubt, (Facebook’s name) is definitely damaged and toxic,” he said.
Zuckerberg said the new name, coming from the Greek word for “beyond,” symbolized that there was always more to be built. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Thursday tweeted a different definition “referring to itself or to conventions of its genre; self-referential ”.
Zuckerberg said the new name also reflects that over time users will no longer need to use Facebook to use the company’s other services.
In 2015, Google reorganized to create a new holding company called Alphabet, as the popular search engine entered new areas such as self-driving cars, broadband, and expanded its cloud business. Snapchat was also renamed Snap Inc in 2016, the same year it launched its first pair of smart glasses.
Facebook, which this year launched its own pair of smart glasses with Ray-Ban, announced a slew of new AR and VR product updates during Connect. These included a way for people using their Oculus VR headset to call friends using Facebook Messenger, and for people to invite other people to a social version of their home, dubbed “Horizon Home.” .
Zuckerberg also showed video demonstrations of what the Metaverse might look like, with people logging in as avatars and transported to digital versions of various locations and time periods. He said the metaverse should be built with security and privacy in mind.