Facebook said Thursday, October 28, that its new corporate name “Meta” would reflect the company’s focus for building a virtual “metaverse” for people to connect, play, work, and learn online.
While all the owned properties like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook’s flagship social media platform will keep their names, the business itself will be restructured, and start trading under the new stock ticker “MVRS” from December.
The announcement was made on FB’s Live annual conference Connect, which was touted to be the largest “one-day virtual event that explores the future of augmented and virtual reality.”
Zuckerberg had teased the ambition early in the year (July) for creating an all-encompassing online ecosystem using descriptions of AR (Artificial Reality) lifestyles that may remind some of the sci-fi movie “Ready Player One” or the “Sims” game.
Using representative avatars, users may be able to conduct their daily activities like playing chess, conducting live 3D meetings, or standing in a virtual concert, all remotely from their homes.
While it may seem too futuristic, FB is betting big on the potential of this route, with plans to spend $10 billion on metaverse-related projects this year itself, chasing the goal of having 1 billion metaverse users in the following decade.
Currently, Facebook’s original social networking portal boasts 2.853 billion active users worldwide.
“Our mission remains the same, it’s still about bringing people together,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 37, who launched the platform back in 2004, and is the 5th richest person in the world as of October 2021, with a net worth of $122 billion.
Zuckerberg assured viewers in his Connect Conference that the primary goal would be to build the metaverse responsibly, keeping their privacy at the forefront.
Public Opinion unswayed
Not everyone is convinced by the move and the promise, however.
Facebook has been under constant fire from governments and the public for its controversies of meddling with private user data, selling unauthorized information to third parties, and even allowing advertisers to manipulate public opinion for their political agendas via strategically targeted content.
Back in 2018, Zuckerberg testified before a joint hearing in Congress in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the British consulting firm harvested user data of 87 million profiles without their consent.
The data was allegedly used in Donald Trump and Ted Cruz’s political campaigns to build psychographic profiles to determine what kind of content could be served to users to persuade them to take favorable decisions during the election polls.
Other landmark events like Brexit and the Russian meddling of US state affairs have also been linked back to the same scandal.
The public sentiment and trust in the company are at an all-time low, so Twitterati was more than happy to troll the rechristening campaign soon after launch
Amid such struggles from all ends, it’s not really a big surprise if Zuckerberg is in fact, charting new directions in part to distance the brand from the ongoing heat. Whether his metaverse-focused business model will work well is yet to be seen.
In terms of company size and impact, this is the second-most influential rebranding effort after Google’s reorganization of its properties under the corporate umbrella of “Alphabet.”
Co-founder and now controlling board member, Larry Page had clarified the giant’s goal for digital leadership beyond its original search engine product.