Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the social media giant is rebranding its corporate name to Meta as it focuses on building out its metaverse vision of an embodied internet with immersive spaces and experiences where people can digitally connect.
- “The metaverse is the next chapter for the internet and it’s the next chapter for our company too,” Zuckerberg said at Facebook’s annual Connect 2021 conference. “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.”
- Zuckerberg said the company is working on interoperability, privacy and safety, avatars, gaming, teleporting, and virtual goods as it builds out its metaverse ecosystem. “In order to unlock the potential of the metaverse there needs to be interoperability and that goes beyond just taking your avatar and digital items across different apps and experiences which we are already building an API to support … This is going to require not just technical work like some of the important projects that are going on around crypto and NFTs in the community now,” Zuckerberg said. “It’s also going to take ecosystem building, norm setting and new forms of governance.”
- The company also plans to build a marketplace where creators can sell and share 3D digital items. “Our hope is that this will enable a lot more commerce and help grow the overall metaverse economy because at the end of the day it is really the creators and developers who are going to build the metaverse and make this real,” Zuckerberg said.
- Facebook’s metaverse move comes as the company faces challenges on multiple fronts. In the U.S., lawmakers have called on Facebook to halt its cryptocurrency and digital wallet project Novi hours after its pilot launch began earlier this month. The Facebook-backed Diem project — originally conceived as a global cryptocurrency but subsequently scaled down — has drawn significant, negative regulatory interest and has no clear launch date. The company has also faced criticism over its inner workings following the “Facebook Papers” leak where whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, disclosed internal Facebook documents that showed the company ignoring the harm caused by its apps and services.
- Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it was creating 10,000 jobs in the European Union over the next five years to build its metaverse.
- The company is committing US$150 million to train creators to build immersive learning content and increase access to devices. It also plans to establish a professional curriculum for its Spark AR platform and put the curriculum on Coursera and edX.
- Facebook says its corporate structure will not change but it will start reporting its business as two different segments — Family of Apps and Reality Labs — from the fourth quarter of 2021. It also intends to trade under a new stock ticker (MVRS) beginning on Dec. 1.