In an interview with Facebook on Thursday, the company announced their name change to Meta, a rebranding opportunity that focuses on developing the “metaverse,” a shared virtual platform where users can live, interact, and work. From New York City to Mason City, Iowa and beyond, this rapid shift in the company business model was shocking to users and investors alike.
What is the Metaverse?
The idea behind CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse is to bring together all technologies and apps under a single company brand. The company’s main focus now is to bring the conceptual Metaverse to life, which is said to help grow businesses, find communities, and improve social connections. The name “Metaverse” was initially coined in the dystopian novel Snow Crash 30-years ago. It refers to the idea of a shared digital realm that various users across all devices can access.
The Metaverse will feel like a hybrid of online social experiences that project digital into the physical world. Users will be able to share immersive experiences with others, even when it is impossible to be together and engage in otherwise impossible activities in the physical world. It is considered the next evolution in social technologies, thus creating a new chapter for Zuckerberg’s company.
Over the past couple of years, Facebook has increased its presence in the hardware market by introducing Portal video-calling devices, various versions of Oculus virtual reality headsets, and a line of Ray-Ban Stories video glasses. The Metaverse plans to utilize all these hardware and software additions as a core part of its strategy in the upcoming years.
Reason for the Change
In addition to the new platform that will better connect users, the rebranding comes after various negative publicity because whistleblower Frances Haugen released internal documents. The main point of the released reports shows the company is aware of the harm its services and apps are having on users but has not taken the necessary steps to address them. Within the next few weeks, more documents are expected to be released. In several interviews, Zuckerberg refuted these critiques and claims found in the released reports. He further stated that these reports painted a “false picture” of the inner workings within the organization. Within the past few weeks, Haugen testified before the U.S. Senate subcommittee and the U.K… parliament.
The Connect Conference
Facebook’s Connect Conference displayed virtual and augmented reality developments, marketers, and content creators to celebrate the industry’s growth and momentum. Set as a virtual event, the conference’s content explored the various experiences users in the Metaverse could feel over the coming decade. These experiences range from
commerce to education, work, fitness, gaming, entertainment, and social connections.
Facebook also announced at the conference the new tools to assist with the creation and development within the Metaverse, including The Presence Platform. This software platform will enable mixed reality experiences by utilizing the Quest 2 virtual reality hardware, along with a $150 million investment to train the next creator generation.
Changes to Facebook
The current corporate structure will remain intact, but financial reporting will change. Beginning with the 2021 fourth-quarter results, Meta will report two operating segments: Reality Labs and Family of Apps. Also, starting December 1st, the company will start trading under the new stock ticker, MVRS. After the announcement, Facebook shares jumped by 1.5% at the close of the trading day.
Facebook Reality Labs will be responsible for the augmented and virtual reality segment, and the Family of Apps will manage the software category. In 2021, the company created a product team within the Reality Labs unit that is solely focused on the Metaverse, and it plans to hire an additional 10,000 employees in Europe over the next five years.