Facebook, as a corporate entity, is no more: At its Facebook Connect augmented and virtual reality conference today, the social media giant announced that henceforth the company will now be known as Meta.
The name change points to the company’s ambitions to bring about the metaverse: a shared virtual environment uniting AR, VR and a new breed of hardware devices that go beyond smartphones, such as high-tech glasses and electromyography armbands.
According to chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg, the metaverse is the “next chapter” for technology and his company.
In an address at the online conference, he explained: “I’ve been thinking a lot about our identity, as we begin this next chapter. Facebook is one of the most used products in the history of the world. It is an iconic social media brand. But increasingly, it just doesn’t encompass everything that we do.” He pointed to Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, Quest and other emerging techs in the company’s pipeline, including the next-generation AR glasses based on Ray-Ban Stories, the connected glasses born of its EssilorLuxottica partnership.
“To reflect who we are and what we hope to build, I am proud to announce, starting today, our company is now Meta,” he said.
The news follows the company’s announcement during its third-quarter earnings call on Monday that it will make a fundamental change to its financial reporting structure, carving out its AR and VR business from earnings from its social media empire.
The Meta logo was chosen “because it can mean ‘beyond,’” the company explained on its design blog.
“The Meta symbol was designed to dynamically live in the metaverse — where you can move through it and around it,” the site elaborated. “It can take on infinite textures, colors and movement, capturing the creativity and imagination of a 3D world. It was also important that the symbol take on a blue gradient and pull in the color of our core products, connecting our future to our company’s origins.” The symbol can look like a variation on the infinity symbol, or even orient itself in 3D to look like an “M.”
The apps and their brands will retain their names and brand identities.
In a newsroom post published Thursday, the company said: “Our corporate structure is not changing, however, how we report on our financials will. Starting with our results for the fourth quarter of 2021, we plan to report on two operating segments: Family of Apps and Reality Labs. We also intend to start trading under the new stock ticker we have reserved, MVRS, on Dec. 1. Today’s announcement does not affect how we use or share data.”
Critics note the timing of this announcement, suspecting that Meta, née Facebook, is choosing to transition because its existing name has become toxic — especially in recent days. Whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, has appeared before Congress as well as British Parliament, with documents and testimony alleging that the company allowed its platform to perpetuate hate, divisions and other issues, putting profits over people.
Zuckerberg didn’t acknowledge that in his address.
Though he noted that “this period has also been humbling,” he attributed that to running a large company that has “learned what it’s like to build on other platforms. Living under their rules has profoundly shaped my views on the tech industry. I’ve come to believe that the lack of choice for consumers and high fees for developers are stifling innovation and holding back the internet economy,” he said.