Facebook (FB) - Get Free Report on Thursday announced a fundamental change to its identity as it rebranded its name to Meta and hoped to be seen as a metaverse company, at its virtual developer conference, Facebook Connect.
Shares of the Menlo Park, Calif., company closed 1.51% higher at $316.92. Facebook also said it will start trading under a new stock ticker MVRS beginning Dec. 1.
"Today we are seen as a social media company but in our DNA we're a company that builds technology to connect people and the metaverse is the next frontier just like social networking was when we got started," said Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg during his keynote address.
The metaverse is a $10 billion project to transition Facebook from its much-criticized social network and related family of apps and into what founder and Zuckerberg has called an "embodied Internet."
"I have been thinking a lot about our identity as we begin this next chapter. Facebook is an iconic social media brand but increasingly it just doesn't encompass everything that we do," he added.
The word "meta" didn't summon the same connotation for some observers. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "Meta as in "we are a cancer to democracy metastasizing into a global surveillance and propaganda machine..."
Facebook already owns meta.com, meta.org, and perhaps dozens of other meta-names, domains, handles, and properties, according to Bloomberg.
The Atlantic describes metaverse as simply a 'sexy', aspirational name for some kind of virtual or augmented-reality play. Either way, the metaverse will allow Facebook to build future revenue streams, cement its position in the next computing platform, and potentially rewrite its company narrative going forward, according to analysts tracking the company.
"Building our social media apps will always be a focus for us but right now our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can't possibly represent all that we're doing today, let alone in the future. Overtime, I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company and I want to anchor our identity on what we're building towards," said Zuckerberg.
Facebook is setting aside $150 million to train creators on how to build immersive learning content. Within the next year, Facebook Connect will build a marketplace where creators can trade 3D commerce (like NFTs) to help grow the metaverse economy.
Zuckerberg said the metaverse will lead to a massive increase in the creator economy and amount of digital goods and commerce. "If you're in the metaverse every day, then you'll need digital clothes and digital tools and different experiences," Zuckerberg said in an earnings call with investors on Monday.
"I know the Internet story isn't straight forward, and there will be disruption of established interests," Zuckerberg said.
Facebook's head of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, Andrew Bosworth, a longtime executive and close friend of Zuckerberg’s who will take over as chief technology officer in early 2022 will reportedly lead the building of this new experience.
Zuckerberg has said it will take several years to build out the metaverse experience, although it already owns a company called Oculus, which manufactures and sells VR computers and headsets.
"We're building multiple generations of our VR and AR products at the same time, as well as the new operating system and development model, the digital commerce platform, content studios, and of course, the social platform," he added in the earnings call earlier this week.
Facebook has been laying the foundation for this project since at least 2014, when it acquired the virtual-reality headset maker Oculus. Last month, Facebook began selling Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses in cooperation with EssilorLuxottica.
Facebook on Thursday also outlined some examples of privacy and safety controls that would be needed in the metaverse, such as the ability to block someone from appearing in your space. Zuckerberg is betting that the metaverse will be the next big computing platform, calling it "the successor to the mobile Internet."
"We’ve gone from desktop to web to phones from text to photos to video, but this isn’t the end of the line,” Zuckerberg said at the social-media giant’s annual developer forum called Facebook Connect. “The next platform and medium will be even more immersive and embodied Internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it, and we call this the metaverse.”