A report that Facebook plans to change its corporate name has prompted a flurry of online speculation as industry followers rushed to register their guesses.
Suggestions on Twitter included simple ones like “FB” and a return to “The Facebook”. The Verge, which reported the plan on Tuesday, said the new name could have something to do with “Horizon” after a virtual reality platform the company has been developing. That would be a nod to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ambition for Facebook eventually to be known better for its metaverse — referring to the trendy proposition that the next evolution in online connectivity will be people living, working and interacting in an immersive virtual world — than its social network.
“Meta” is another contender put forward by, among others, Samidh Chakrabarti, the company’s former civic integrity chief. The Web address meta.com currently redirects to meta.org, the home of a biomedical research discovery tool developed under the stewardship of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which is co-founded by the Facebook CEO. That suggests Zuckerberg has a head-start on any other contender looking to secure the ultimate name for a metaverse firm.
The aim of the rebranding would be to reposition Facebook as a metaverse company, The Verge said, with the marquee apps and services like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp likely maintaining their branding under a new parent structure not unlike that practiced by Google and its parent Alphabet. Facebook declined to comment on the report.
Supporting the Meta idea are several factors: Silicon Valley firms favour brief domain names as a mark of prestige, with Alphabet calling abc.xyz home. Any company named Meta would also be able to lay claim to the term “metaverse” as its own rather than the generic descriptor it currently is.
In 2017, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative acquired a company called Meta that developed artificial intelligence technology for searching scientific papers. It now resides at meta.org. A separate augmented reality start-up with the same name was sold in 2019 to a buyer called Meta View, which planned to develop an AR headset. Its website is metavision.com.
Facebook is planning to announce a name change by 28 October, The Verge said. — (c) 2021 Bloomberg LP