Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday at his company’s Connect event that its new name will be Meta. “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.”
“To reflect who we are and what we hope to build,” he added. He said the name Facebook doesn’t fully encompass everything the company does now, and is still closely linked to one product. “But over time, I hope we are seen as a metaverse company.”
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 previously redirected to meta.org, a biomedical research discovery tool that was a project of the Chan Zuckerberg Science Initiative. That’s part of the philanthropic arm Zuckerberg co-founded with his physician wife, Priscilla Chan, in 2015. In a Medium post on Thursday, the group says it’s sunsetting Meta.org on March 31st, 2022.
As The Verge first reported on October 19th, the rebrand is part of the company’s efforts to shift gears away from being known as just a social media company and focus on Zuckerberg’s plans for building the metaverse. In July, he told The Verge that over the next several years, Facebook would “effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”
Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post Thursday that the company’s corporate structure would not be changing, but how it reports financial results 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 explained. “We also intend to start trading under the new stock ticker we have reserved, MVRS, on December 1. Today’s announcement does not affect how we use or share data.”
Facebook has been under intense scrutiny over the past several weeks, after revelations based on damning internal documents provided to the Wall Street Journal by whistleblower Frances Haugen showed, among other things, that Facebook’s Instagram platform had 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.
On Monday, multiple news outlets published further details of the internal documents disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form. They showed the deep concern among Facebook’s researchers that its user base was aging, and the platform was losing traction among younger generations. The documents also showed Facebook had a tiered system to prioritize which countries would receive enhanced protections around elections.
Early speculation focused on a change similar to Google’s 2015 rebrand when it announced it would become one of several companies under the umbrella of a larger holding company called Alphabet. For Facebook, the original “blue” app would join Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus under a parent company.
Oculus, however, got a refresh of its own following Thursday’s event, as CTO Andrew Bosworth announced Meta was phasing out the Oculus branding. The Oculus Quest product line will become the Meta Quest line, and the Oculus App will be called the Meta Quest App. Those changes will begin to take effect in early 2022, Bosworth said.