Does Facebook’s rebrand to Meta change the reality or is it just shifting investors’ attention to find the next Bitcoin or Ethereum?
Facebook announced a name change last week as part of its major rebranding. This is to reflect what CEO Mark Zuckerberg said as its yet-to-be-fully-realized commitment to “help bring the Metaverse to life as it is the next evolution of social connection.”
After the rebrand, Facebook’s stock rose 4%— good news for the company which lost $7 billion last month during an outage that saw Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram affected for hours.
This sparks hot discussion and criticism about ‘Metaverse’ across the world as people are wondering whether we can really enjoy new meta experiences, or this is more about Facebook’s strategies to address its reputational challenges from recent years or is trying to shift investors’ attention to find the next bitcoin or ethereum.
To find out what industry leaders and KOLs think about Facebook’s rebranding and Metaverse in general, we collected some insights and opinions, and your comments are welcomed, too.
Calling yourself Meta doesn’t make you a Metaverse
Changing a business name is a big deal, and especially for global tech giants like Facebook, hence this must be a well-thought-out decision and shows Facebook’s great determination to build and continuously explore the Metaverse for the long run. However, restrained by its business structure, it can’t be categorized into Metaverse.
One of Facebook’s earliest investors Roger McNamee has become one of the most vocal critics, he said at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal earlier in November that, “faced with a tsunami of evidence of irresponsible behavior and possible criminal violations, Facebook is desperate to change the subject.”
McNamee criticized that there’s no way that regulators or policymakers should be allowing Facebook to operate in the metaverse or get into cryptocurrencies,” he said.
Metaverse isn’t about size, its core feature is interoperability. Creators, developers, and users can collaborate in Metaverse and enjoy interoperability, which is a manifestation of free will.
（as translated from DefiTeddy’s Twitter post on the left:)
“Facebook (Meta) can become a vital part of the Metaverse era, but it’s not Web3.0 and is unlikely to be the core of Metaverse. Facebook’s rename makes Metaverse a hot spot, pushing the price of related tokens like $MANA to skyrocket. Most of $MANA’s current value comes from the imagination space of the meta-universe concept, rather than business data.”
Why Metaverse Matter?
As Matthew BallEven, the Managing Partner of EpyllionCo, which operates an early-stage venture fund, as well as a corporate and venture advisory arm wrote in his blog earlier last year:
“If the Metaverse falls short of the fantastical visions captured by science fiction authors, it is likely to produce trillions in value as a new computing platform or content medium. But in its full vision, the Metaverse becomes the gateway to most digital experiences, a key component of all physical ones, and the next great labor platform.”
FaceBook’s Meta strategy is contradictory
Looking closely into the development path of Web1.0-Web3.0, you will notice that Facebook’s vision of Meta is inherently in conflict:
- WEB1.0: domain names and blogs, user-focused, fragmented;
- WEB2.0: E-commerce and social network, platform-focused, connected;
- WEB3.0: BAAS+ UGC, user-focused, connected. (BAAS: Backend as a Service; UGC: User-Generated Content)
If we plot the degree of content control (‘freedom’’) against the overall user experience (‘efficiency’), then Metaverse should be placed on upper bounds for both dimensions.
Looking retrospectively, it’s not hard to realize that Web2.0 is designed to maximize the efficiency of information processing under the constraints of computing costs. Despite perceiving those big-tech companies as demons from the Web2.0 era, one cannot deny those demons are indeed created to satisfy our paranoia about efficiency.
Yet, history seems to be a cycle, we are now being pulled back from efficiency to fairness and freedom. We’re driven by our constantly evolving values, and now we want to build a user-controlled Web3.0 ecosystem. The natives of Metaverse all yearn for individual freedom and the overall harmony in mind, considering how their data has been abused and become “commodities” in the Web2.0.
An almost inevitable conflict between Metaverse and Meta
The long-existing contradiction between entrepreneurship and establishment. If the resources of Facebook come from its existing achievements and reputation, then Meta is certainly built on top of Facebook, which in another word, Meta will just be a fantasy world manipulated by Facebook, not a real peer-to-peer Metaverse for users.
Meta, however, is impossible to bypass Facebook’s existing influence and business cultures when trying to rebuild the world of Metaverse that fits the Web3.0 ecosystem.
The Metaverse might open up new possibilities for the users, but it will also open up a new world of advertising possibilities for Facebook (Meta).
A new economy for digital goods
Daniel Howley, a technology editor in Yahoo Finance expressed his deep concern about how Facebook can track people in the Metaverse, especially when wearing a headset, eye-tracking can be incredibly perceptive. Basically, Facebook will be able to capture everything you see in the Metaverse and better predict what users think, which is pretty scary considering Facebook’s reputation for tracking and “understanding” its users.
Some people online jokingly interpreted Facebook’s new name META as:
Jason: Pork Feet Rice Capital (PFR)
Yet, the founding partner of PFR Capital Jason also commented on Twitter (as translated below):
“Metaverse is not gaming, not an open MMO, nor is it gold farming. Although the latter can be packaged as a concept to fit Web3.0 and make lots of money, it is not a Metaverse. Metaverse1.0 will be moving what we’re doing offline already online or on-chain, and Metaverse2.0 will develop its native products and unique experiences and it varies depending on Metavere’s actual progress along the road.”
BusinessInsider also commented, “the Metaverse (built by Facebook) won’t be a social space, but a commercial one, and the pursuit of profit will compromise all the rosy promises being made while it’s still in the early concept phase.”
Normally when a gate to a new world opens, there will be a difference between what the leaders want to build VS what the people want to have, so is in the world of Metaverse.
Skepticism thinks Facebook’s rename is a PR stunt, what Mark Zuckerberg really wants is to re-target young audiences and keep building digital environments that attract users, so that people will spend more time and money on its platform and products.
We just started & it’s a long journey
With the technological advancement in the past few years, including public’s increasing interest in concepts like blockchain and Metaverse, together with cultural shifts that were accelerated by the COVID pandemic, the world is going through a rapid evolution, leaving investors eager to find the next bitcoin or Ethereum.
The foundation of Metaverse is “people’s will” which is not always about profits. It’s like a voluntary revolution that native residents keep up as a result of their desire for ‘free will’ and ‘community spirit. Namely, in the world of Metaverse, having too much resources might become a disadvantage.
To strengthen its Metaverse vision in the next 5 years, Facebook is hiring 10,000 highly-skilled people in the EU and investing billions into cultivating a more immersive experience with new tools and applications like VR headsets, XR glasses. However, it’s probably going to hire more ‘employees’ rather than ‘people’ who are truly passionate about making a difference in the Metaverse and Web3.0 era.
Facebook’s Metaverse seems to be a breakthrough, but it’s still controlled by Mark Zuckerberg, built by Meta’s employees, essentially those who work for Facebook. We are still at an early stage in the Metaverse, there is no consensus around exactly how this would work, what are the standards, nor the degree of decentralization required, and that’s also the exciting part of this journey.
So what do you think are the implications of Facebook changing its name to Meta, and how it would contribute to the Metaverse?
Leave your comments below & spread your ideas.
This is an opinion column. These quotes have been edited and condensed. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cipholio Ventures.
For more information:
About Cipholio Ventures:
Cipholio is a team of professional investors and analysts focusing on blockchain and crypto projects. Cipholio will serve as a bridge to connect people, technology, and capital in the decentralized world. We aim to seek opportunities in Web 3.0, DeFi, GameFi, Metaverse, and Layer 2 based on deep understandings of the industry and data-driven decisions.