Fb’s identify change plan is a mirrored image of precedence on the metaverse



Fb’s plan to alter its firm identify, as first reported by The Verge, comes at a peculiar time. The almost $1 trillion firm that owns Instagram and WhatsApp is going through its greatest scandal in years over damning inner paperwork leaked by a whistleblower, in addition to mounting antitrust scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators.
So what’s actually happening? Is the identify change meant to be a distraction from its larger issues? An indication of extra firm modifications to return? And when did Fb first provide you with this concept?
There’s nonetheless loads we don’t know, together with what precisely Fb’s new company identify will probably be. The Verge indicated it’s going to hook up with the corporate’s give attention to the “metaverse,” a creating digital platform enhanced by augmented and digital actuality the place folks work together via digital avatars.
“We don’t touch upon rumor or hypothesis.” mentioned Fb spokesperson Joe Osborne in response to Recode’s questions concerning the firm.
However one factor this rebrand makes clear is that regardless of the huge challenges Fb is going through, it isn’t slowing down or staying in a defensive crouch. It nonetheless has its sights set on increasing its domination and world-building, which is what it’s making an attempt to realize with its metaverse plans.
Reasonably than asserting severe reforms in response to the whistleblower’s revelations, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made no apologies. As an alternative, he and his firm have dismissed the whistleblower’s complaints and proof, and are plowing forward with a longstanding plan to show the science-fiction idea of a metaverse right into a enterprise actuality.

For Fb, this isn’t a brand new thought. Zuckerberg sees the metaverse as the following section of main technological innovation akin to the invention of the web or cellphones.
The CEO informed journalist Casey Newton in March that Fb will probably be a metaverse firm — not a social media firm — within the subsequent 5 years. The corporate just lately introduced 10,000 new hires within the EU who will work on the metaverse. And this reported identify change reveals that Zuckerberg will reorient all the Fb model round it. The identify change may additionally assist Fb distance itself from the luggage related to its major product because it builds out its shiny new metaverse-related merchandise, like Oculus headsets and different AR/VR wearable units.
Some Fb critics have argued {that a} splashy new identify serves as a handy media distraction from the deeper points at hand — evaluating the technique to that of tobacco big Philip Morris altering its identify to Altria in 2001 or British Petroleum to BP Amoco within the late ’90s after which BP in 2001.
“Confronted with a tsunami of proof of irresponsible conduct and potential felony violations, Fb is determined to alter the topic,” Roger McNamee, an early investor within the firm who has turn out to be one of many firm’s most vocal critics, informed Recode. “Journalists and policymakers want to stay targeted on the crime scene, not the arm-waving.”
Normally, company identify modifications for a corporation of Fb’s dimension require long-term planning and strategizing, so it appears unlikely that the corporate got here up with the thought in a single day — though it’s believable that current occasions may have sped up a choice already within the works. Fb has struggled with its model’s attraction since lengthy earlier than the Haugen testimony.
And to this point, the reported identify change is just prompting extra scrutiny and is seeming to impress some legislators’ ire, comparable to Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). Blackburn co-chairs the influential bipartisan Senate Commerce subcommittee that has been main an investigation into the current whistleblower’s claims; she tweeted on Wednesday that Fb altering its identify “doesn’t make a distinction till they alter their habits of prioritizing revenue over the well-being of kids.”
Because the world waits to study extra about Fb’s rebrand, a key element to look at for is whether or not there will probably be precise structural change to the corporate. When Google restructured its enterprise strains below the umbrella of Alphabet in 2015, it was supposed partially to let co-founders Larry Web page and Sergey Brin take a step again from the corporate’s search enterprise and as an alternative give attention to its extra experimental improvements. Whereas Zuckerberg has given no indication he plans to do the identical, folks will probably be watching to see if any form of organizational or management change comes with this rebrand.
Within the meantime, these reported plans sign that irrespective of the reputational hits it’s coping with, Fb gained’t be deterred from pursuing its enterprise objectives. Regardless of all its public scandals, the corporate remains to be wildly financially profitable, raking in tens of billions in income every quarter. And whereas Fb’s shares took a notable 5 % dip shortly after the whistleblower went public and an uncommon community outage, the value is already bouncing again, and analysts count on one other robust earnings report subsequent week. That success appears to present Zuckerberg a mandate to additional his formidable agenda — which proper now doesn’t appear to be fixing Fb’s messy actuality at the moment, however constructing out a complete new one for tomorrow.