Enter the Metaverse

Inside Facebook’s pivot to the creation of the Metaverse. What does this mean for the future of the company — and is it just a ploy to distract us from its shady dealings?

Perhaps in an attempt to rebrand following its recent controversy, Mark Zuckerberg announced this week that Facebook would change its name to Meta. Announcing the switch during the company’s ‘Connect’ event Zuckerberg said “Together, we can finally put people at the centre of our technology. And together, we can unlock a massively bigger creator economy.” He added that the name Meta better reflects “Who we are and what we hope to build.” 

The name change was also revealed in a series of tweets “Meta is helping to build the metaverse, a place where we’ll play and connect in 3D. Welcome to the next chapter of social connection.” and “The metaverse is the next evolution of social connection. It’s a collective project that will be created by people all over the world, and open to everyone. You’ll be able to socialize, learn, collaborate and play in ways that go beyond what’s possible today.”

The change has come about, Zuckerberg says because he doesn’t feel the name Facebook fully describes everything the company now does, and does of course make users think of the social media app first and foremost. By expanding to ‘Meta’, Zuckerberg hopes consumers will view the company as a wide ranging one with fingers in multiple tech pies. “Today we are seen as a social media company, but in our DNA we are a company that builds technology to connect people, and the metaverse is the next frontier just like social networking was when we got started,” he said. 

The name change is effective immediately and the company will change its stock ticker from FB to MVRS effective from December 1st. 

This isn’t Zuckerberg’s first use of the word meta in his business. While meta.com now redirects to Facebook’s log in page, it previously redirected to meta.org, the website of the biomedical research arm of the Chan Zuckerberg Science Initiative which Zuckerberg co-founded with his wife the physician Priscilla Chan in 2015. According to a post on Thursday this website will be shut down in spring 2022.

But what else does it mean for the company?

First of all, finances. Zuckerberg published an extensive blog report about the name change in which he revealed that while Facebook’s corporate structure won’t change under the new name, how it reports its finances 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” he wrote. “…Today’s announcement does not affect how we use or share data.”

How this will affect all Facebook brands is as of yet unknown, but it has been revealed that its virtual reality arm, Oculus will now become known as Meta Quest, with the Oculus Quest product line becoming the Meta Quest line and the Oculus App becoming the Meta Quest App. According to Oculus CTO Andrew Bosworth these changes will take place in early 2022.

This news comes after the Verge reported earlier this week that Facebook “is spending at least $10 billion this year on its metaverse division” and that this will be a huge focus for the company over the next few years. Specifically the report looks at the future of AR and VR projects, indicating they may be integral to Facebook’s rebranding. It also announced plans to hire 10,000 more employees to work on the metaverse in Europe. Naturally, this means Meta Quest would take centre stage.

Interestingly, the Verge report also digs deeper into Facebook’s third quarter earnings report, noting signs of struggle at the company. “The company missed revenue expectations by around $1 billion (this is not a lot, exactly, at Facebook’s scale), which speaks to some of the company’s struggles right now,” write Jacob Kastrenakes and Alex Heath. 

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