Mark Zuckerberg announced this week that Facebook will change its name to Meta. This isn’t a simple name change. It’s a bold and ambitious attempt at rebranding and repositioning one of the most significant companies of the 21st century.
Along with the news of its name change, Zuckerberg presented the company’s vision for the future-- not just of his company but of humanity. A future where we will live in multiple universes and connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime, thanks to augmented and virtual reality technology.
The hour-and-a-half presentation covered a wide array of topics from updates on the technological advancement of virtual reality, product demos, to discussions about the future of entertainment, work, education and human connection. All of which set the stage for one of the most ambitious and complex rebrands of our time.
Although Mark explained the rebrand as necessary because Facebook no longer serves as a brand platform wide and deep enough to support all that the company has become and is becoming, many can’t help but wonder whether, among other things, the company is really just trying to distance itself from a name that now carries too many negative associations.
Whether or not Meta, formerly Facebook, will successfully rebrand and reposition the company, it’s undeniable that we witnessed a flawless presentation, tainted only by the cloud of anger and skepticism looming over the company for a few years now.
Overall, it was a stellar performance. As tempting as it may be to geek out about technology and all the innovations, Mark and his team did a really good job painting a picture for the future of humanity. They communicated with a level of empathy that is rarely associated with the company these days, putting every technology and innovation in the context of how it will enhance our human experience.
Often criticized for being tone deaf and out of touch, they showed that they have a real finger on the pulse of what matters most to people. They described in vivid detail the future of entertainment, gaming, education, remote work, e-commerce, and health. And they navigated with dexterity and humility the elephant, or rather elephants, in the room: privacy, regulation, diversity, inclusion, and human rights.
Throughout the presentation, Mark told a coherent story about human connection and his company’s commitment to removing the barriers that prevent us from connecting with one another— namely time, location, money or even our current hardwares like our phones, TVs and computer screens.
Whether or not they will succeed doesn’t depend on their ability to create the world they envision because no one would bet against their track record. Success will hinge on their ability to mend the broken trust with the public and to reconcile the one glaring incoherence in the company’s brand story: How can a company built to enable deeper human connection also seemingly care so little about the safety and well-being of the people they try to connect?
I hope they will work as hard to answer this question as they are on building the technology that will support and power the multiverse future they imagine for humanity. Because although there’s no doubt that the future is multiverse, the question remains whether we will trust them with building it.
written by Junior Nyemb, Chief Empathy Officer