CEO fires 900 employees via Zoom call
Facebook rebrands as 'Meta'
Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday that the company he founded is rebranding as Meta.
"Facebook is one of the most used products in the history of the world ... but increasingly it just doesn't encompass everything we do," he said during a livestreamed event.
The announcement came during an address by Zuckerberg about the company's ambitions in what they are calling the "metaverse," which is being pitched as an immersive virtual online experience.
The name change comes as Facebook continues to face intense scrutiny. Dozens of news stories have been released this week based on internal documents provided by whistleblower Frances Haugen painting a company that prioritizes profit over user safety.
Lawmakers have taken notice, pledging to move forward with regulations on the back of Haugen's testimony earlier this month.
The new model, of which details are scant, appears to be one where the company's collection of apps, including Facebook proper, Instagram and WhatsApp, will all be under the umbrella of Meta. That reorganization is similar to what Google did in 2015 when it formed Alphabet.
"Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can't possibly represent everything that we're doing today, let alone in the future," Zuckerberg said.
The metaverse, a term that originally appeared in 20th-century science fiction novels, does not have one set definition yet. Facebook, or Meta, has described it as "a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren't in the same physical space as you."
Some experts think a metaverse is a next step from the modern day internet to a new online reality, a unified space that seamlessly blends virtual worlds into our own.
"I believe that Metaverse is the next chapter for the internet," Zuckerberg said. "And it's the next chapter for our company."
That version of the metaverse is largely illusory, however. Despite meaningful advancements in virtual and augmented reality technology over the last decade, the level of ubiquity that Meta's presentation Thursday envisioned would take significantly more.
Zuckerberg and other executives that appeared during the presentation stressed that most of the applications they envision aren't possible with existing technology.
"A lot of what we've shown today isn't going to be available in the next year or two. Some of this is still a long way off," Meta's new CEO said.
Updated at 2:58 p.m.