Can Meta be a game-changer for Zuckerberg?

Facebook changes its name to Meta after 17 long years.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s new name as meta in Facebook connect event as a part of a major rebranding. The company also unveiled a new sign at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on Thursday, replacing its thumbs-up “Like” logo with a blue infinity shape.

The CEO wants to be known for building the metaverse with its ambition to be known for more than social media. Earlier the company announced that it plans to recruit 10,000 jobs in Europe for the next five years to help build the metaverse as a key component of its future.

The change does not apply to its individual platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp, only the parent company that owns them. It is somewhat similar to Google creating a new parent conglomerate Alphabet inc. in 2015 to separate its profitable internet business from its costly futuristic enterprises.

On Thursday, Zuckerberg held a 90-minute video presentation about the company’s efforts to build out an immersive digital world known as the metaverse. He ended up sharing that his company will henceforth be known as Meta. Its social media services—Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook itself—will keep their names, but starting in December the company will begin using the stock ticker MVRS.

 When analyst Ben Thompson asked him if he would appoint a CEO for the Facebook app, in an interview posted on Thursday, Zuckerberg said he still “care[d] deeply about the social media part of what we do.” 

Zuckerberg owns the Twitter handle @Meta (whose tweets are protected as of this writing) and meta.com, which now redirects to a welcome page on Facebook outlining the changes. The site was previously redirected to meta.org, a biomedical research discovery tool that was a project of the Chan Zuckerberg Science Initiative. 

What is Metaverse?

Popularised by Snow crash, a 1992 sci-fi novel by Neal Stephenson. It refers to a collection of shared online worlds in which physical, augmented reality, and virtual reality converge. People can hang out with friends, work, visit places, buy goods and services and attend events.

In June, Zuckerberg told Facebook employees that the future of the company would go well beyond the current social apps. He said Facebook would build an interconnected set of experiences as part of the metaverse.

In the company’s recent connect event he said that the existing brand could not “possibly represent everything that we’re doing today, let alone in the future”, and needed to change.

“Over time, I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company and I want to anchor our work and our identity on what we’re building towards,” he told a virtual conference.

“We’re now looking at and reporting on our business as two different segments, one for our family of apps, and one for our work on future platforms.

“And as part of this, it is time for us to adopt a new company brand to encompass everything that we do, to reflect who we are and what we hope to build.”

“We are a company that builds technology to connect,” Zuckerberg said. “Together, we can finally put people at the center of our technology. And together, we can unlock a massively bigger creator economy.”

It’s not the first or most radical major corporate rebranding. Some attempts landed better than others. Many renames occurred as the companies, like Facebook, were confronting severe criticism, political pressure, and backlash from damning internal documents.

It is seen that rebranding comes at a time when Facebook is facing criticism over a range of scandals, including a series of internal documents leaked to The Wall Street Journal by whistleblower Frances Haugen. Facebook’s Instagram has become a toxic place for teenagers, especially girls. And antitrust regulators are pushing for the company to be broken up, as public trust in the social media platform is flagging. It can be speculated that this rebranding is a way of distracting users from the ongoing controversy.