The US Tech giant, Facebook Inc has rebrand and now to be called Meta. The name change was announced at the its Connect augmented and virtual reality conference on Thursday.
The new name reflects the company’s growing ambitions beyond social media. Facebook, now known as Meta, has adopted the new moniker, based on the sci-fi term metaverse, to describe its vision for working and playing in a virtual world.
“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”, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
The company also said it will change its stock ticker from FB to MVRS, effective Dec. 1. However, Meta’s stock price was up more than 3% on Thursday.
The company had in July announced the formation of a team that would work on the metaverse. Two months later, the company said it would elevate Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, who is currently the head of the company’s hardware division, to the role of chief technology officer in 2022. And in its third-quarter earnings results on Monday, the company announced that it will break out Reality Labs, its hardware division, into its own reporting segment, starting in the fourth quarter.
“Our hope is that within the next decade, the metaverse will reach a billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support jobs for millions of creators and developers”, Zuckerberg wrote in a letter on Thursday.
Over the past few years, the company has ramped up its efforts in hardware, introducing a line of Portal video-calling devices, launching the Ray-Ban Stories glasses and rolling out various versions of the Oculus virtual-reality headsets. The company has indicated that augmented and virtual reality will be a key part of its strategy in the coming years.
It also said it would spend about $10 billion over the next year developing the technologies required for building the metaverse.
Zuckerberg on Thursday provided a demonstration of the company’s ambitions for the metaverse.
The demo was a Pixar-like animation of software the company hopes to build some day. The demo included users hanging out in space as cartoon-like versions of themselves or fantastical characters, like a robot, that represent their virtual selves. Zuckerberg used part of it to accuse other tech firms of stifling innovation with high developer fees.
He said a lot of this is a long way off, with elements of the metaverse potentially becoming mainstream in five to 10 years. The company expects “to invest many billions of dollars for years to come before the metaverse reaches scale,” Zuckerberg added.
“We believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet”, he said.
Additionally, Meta announced a new virtual reality headset named Project Cambria. The device will be a high-end product available at a higher price point than the $299 Quest 2 headset, the company said in a blog post. Project Cambria will be released next year.
Meta also announced the code name of its first fully AR-capable smart glasses: Project Nazare. The glasses are “still a few years out,” the company said in a blog post. Zuckerberg said “we still have a ways to go with Nazare, but we’re making good progress.”
The re-branding comes amid a barrage of news reports over the past month after Frances Haugen, a former employee turned whistleblower, released a trove of internal company documents to news outlets, lawmakers and regulators.
The reports show that the company is aware of many of the harms its apps and services cause but either doesn’t rectify the issues or struggles to address them. More documents are expected to be shared daily over the coming weeks.
In a call with analysts on Monday, Zuckerberg vehemently refuted the claims and critiques in the reports stemming from the documents provide by Haugen.
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