Facebook has verified the speculations, announcing at its Connect 2021 event that it is renaming the company to better reflect its evolving focus.
The name of Facebook's overarching company will now be 'Meta.'
To be clear, Facebook, the app, as well as all of its other brand names and identities, will continue to exist. However, similar to Google's shift to 'Alphabet' as a broader business name, Facebook's numerous projects will now be grouped under the 'Meta' umbrella, indicating the company's expanding focus on the next generation of digital connectivity.
According to 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 overall business structure will now fall under the Meta umbrella, with the firm splitting its operating streams into two categories: 'Family of Apps,' which includes Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, and 'Reality Labs,' which will include the company's VR and AR technologies as well as other growing tech bets.
On December 1st, Facebook's stock ticker will change from 'FB' to 'MVRS.'
In a founder's letter, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained his goal for the new entity:
“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 may interpret this as a sign that the Facebook brand has been tarnished and requires a fresh start, while the reorganization also allows Zuckerberg to detach himself from Facebook and re-align his name with the expanding metaverse concept.
Perhaps this also helps to rebrand the corporation as more exciting and future-thinking, as opposed to the Facebook that has become increasingly sullied by controversy. Of course, it won't make the controversies go away, but it may allow Facebook to better compartmentalize each piece, allowing it to re-position its metaverse drive as something wholly new and distinct – and, hopefully, developed with safety in mind, using Facebook's errors as a learning tool.
“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.”
Certainly, movements that have altered the course of history. Though not all of them are good.
Nevertheless, the re-brand comes as little surprise, considering that many speculated that 'Meta' would be the new Facebook name, with Zuckerberg's charitable projects already owning several 'meta'-related brand names and the company purchasing meta URLs in recent months in preparation of the announcement.
In actuality, it won't mean much more than announcing Facebook's plan to make the expanding metaverse concept a much bigger focus through more immersive technology advancements and projects aimed at making Facebook – sorry, 'Meta' – associated with the next stage of digital interaction.
Is that going to work? Will renaming the company to reflect 'the metaverse' help Facebook take control of the space and assure optimal relevance for the next generation of digital consumers?
It clearly has the resources, but seeing these things become a reality - virtual or otherwise - will present a number of hurdles.