Facebook will from now on be known as Meta, according to a series of announcements released on 28 October. But what, exactly, does this mean?
There’s a new name and a new logo, and its stock ticker will go from FB to MVRS come December. But the company’s corporate structure isn’t going to change; the eponymous platform is still named Facebook, and there are no indications that that name will be changed. Similarly, there has been no mention of the impact on the enormous suite of services and integrations built out from Facebook’s sprawling tech base, other than a note that all these apps and technologies will now be brought under the umbrella of the Meta name.
The most tangible change, going forward, appears to be that the company is drawing a line between its apps – including its ‘traditional’ products and services – and the more futuristic technologies it’s working on, what CEO Mark Zuckerberg called ‘future platforms’ in his public letter announcing the rebranding.
It will report the financial performance of those two segments separately, possibly in an attempt to insulate the current core business from the massive investments that it is making in the development of the ‘metaverse’. Just last month, Facebook announced it will be pouring US$50 million into external research programs, on top of its internal investments, and two weeks ago it announced it will be hiring 10,000 developers to work on metaverse technologies.
What’s missing in the rebranding is any suggestion of alterations to the company’s values, approach, or culture. The new technologies are still dedicated to the same core aim: to “enable better social experiences”, as Zuckerberg’s letter states. And the business vision Zuckerberg laid out for the rebranding reiterates what he wrote in Facebook’s IPO prospectus nearly a decade ago: “we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”
As to values and culture, the rebranding touches on neither. While Zuckerberg’s letter does hint vaguely at lessons learned – “building products people love isn’t enough”, he writes – there’s no indication that the new name of Meta will come with any changes to how the company handles the chronic issues it is facing, including accusations that its platform abets violence and misinformation and the business model is hostile to users. Neither does the rebranding appear to come with any indications that the company will review the multiple issues it faces around employee input, empowerment, or welfare.
In short, it appears that Meta is more like a product rebranding rather than a company rebranding; with its focus purely on technology development and financials, and no real impact on any of the other factors that make up a company.