Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook will now be known as Meta. He is still chairman and CEO and still holds majority voting power. The corporate structure remains intact, and no changes in senior leadership were announced. Regardless of its name, the company will continue to serve roughly three out of four people who have access to the internet, and its revenue will still exceed $86 billion annually.
With that in mind, here’s the metadata about the Meta announcement.
Facebook (the app) will still be called Facebook, but Facebook (the company) is now Meta.
“Over time,” Mark Zuckerberg said, “I hope we are seen as a metaverse company.”
The company already swapped out its iconic “thumbs up” sign at its HQ for one with its Meta-branded infinity symbol-esque M logo. (It also owns meta.com and @meta on Twitter, in case you were hoping to make a quick buck. The URL used to redirect to meta.org, a research tool from the Chan Zuckerberg Science Initiative, which will sunset in March 2022.)
“Starting with our results for the fourth quarter of 2021,” Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post, “we plan to report on two operating segments: Family of Apps and Reality Labs.” He added the company will also trade under the MVRS stock ticker beginning on December 1.
The company’s existing apps — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc. — will remain and exist under the Meta umbrella.
Another big shift: you won’t need a Facebook account to log into Meta’s other apps and services. Rather than being the center of everything the company offers, Facebook is now (effectively) “just another app” in the company’s arsenal. (An app with roughly 3 billion users, but still.) One day, you may need a “Meta account,” but that’s a bridge to cross on another day.
Oculus Quest is Becoming Meta Quest
All Oculus branding is going away. Starting early next year, the Oculus Quest will be known as the Meta Quest, the Oculus App will be the Meta Quest App, etc. Meta aims to make sure everyone knows that the “brand formerly known as Oculus” is a Meta product and core to its metaverse future.
The other big shift: you no longer need a Facebook account to log into the Oculus platform.
New VR, AR, and MR Tools
Meta also unveiled the Presence Platform, which gives developers a new suite of AI tools to create MR experiences for the Oculus Quest headset. The new tools will help developers build experiences that match the size of the room you’re in, improve controller/hand-based reactions, and use voice commands to create a hands-free experience.
To continue its push past gaming and into the metaverse, the Quest is also getting a slew of new features, like Horizon Home, a space for Meta’s VR avatars to meet and work, and 2D web apps (including Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, and Slack), which will “pop up like panes” from the VR home screen. These apps reduce the friction in launching these apps, which previously required use of its built-in web browser.
Meta created a $150 million fund to expand its content of VR learning. That money will be used to create more content, to train VR and AR content creators (who will, in turn, make their own VR and AR content), and to increase the access people have to VR educational tools.
Meta announced it is expanding its partnership with BMW. The automaker will test Meta’s Project Aria research glasses to see how AR technology can integrate into its future cars. Meta and BMW plan to scrub any captured video recordings to blur faces and identifying features.
The “wrinkle” with Aria is that the glasses have cameras and sensors, but no screens. When they were announced in 2020, Facebook Reality Labs head Andrew Bosworth said, “The point of it is to gather data sets from the point of view of the human head, which will help us hopefully figure out what sensors we need.”
What Happens to FAANG?
FAANG (an acronym encapsulating Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) is no more. The Verge has a fun piece about the outdated nature of the acronym as it searches for a new acronym to use to encapsulate Apple, Amazon, Google (or Alphabet), Meta, Microsoft, Netflix, and Tesla: “In short: A, A, A / G, M, M, N, T.”
Facebook is under immense political pressure. Public opinion is two-faced (as usual). Consumers “hate” Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, but they still use them every day. Every time a senior Facebook executive talks to the press (or even just does a speech), they make their situation worse. Facebook was (and still is) having staffing issues. If you’re an awesome engineer, you have better choices.
Changing its name to Meta won’t change any of this. The company is in the news for all the wrong reasons, and until it does something to change the narrative, the narrative won’t change. But revenue will still exceed $86 billion annually, and more than 3.5 billion people will continue to use the collective Meta platforms.