Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Verge: Facebook Is Rebranding

Alex Heath, the Verge:

Facebook is planning to change its company name next week to reflect its focus on building the metaverse, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

The coming name change, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to talk about at the company’s annual Connect conference on October 28th, but could unveil sooner, is meant to signal the tech giant’s ambition to be known for more than social media and all the ills that entail. The rebrand would likely position the blue Facebook app as one of many products under a parent company overseeing groups like Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, and more. A spokesperson for Facebook declined to comment for this story.

At best, this can be seen as Facebook doing as Google did with Alphabet, but several observers have compared it to the Philip Morris’ Altria rebrand. Is it an attempt at insulating WhatsApp, Oculus, and future products from Facebook’s tainted name, or is it merely acknowledging the company’s expansion and new ventures? I guess that depends on your perspective. Regardless, I am skeptical of this buzzword-heavy “metaverse” direction.

Heath, who broke this news, says the new name is a “closely-guarded secret” — which, of course, began the attempts to figure out what it could be.

Kali Hays, Insider:

Facebook, through its lawyers, has filed seven new trademarks since February, the USPTO database shows. The most recent include a new symbol, shown below, and a new name, “Stories,” both with broad descriptions of what they would be applied to.

[…]

What the trademarks don’t mention is whether they are a new name or logo for the whole company, as is coming soon, according to The Verge. While speculation of what the new name may be has so far centered on “Meta” and “Horizon,” neither are linked to Facebook filings with the USPTO. A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.

A trademark would be a typical step by any company before it begins using a new name, logo, or, in many instances, a tagline for advertising. But it is possible that an entity or person can simply start using a term and claim that it did so first, leaving it to claim a trademark by “first use” and file for registration later.

I also began by searching the USPTO and found the same registrations, but I am not sure they apply to this rebrand. While a trademark could point to a future direction, it is not true that Facebook would need to file a U.S. trademark to claim ownership. Companies like to register in other countries, like Jamaica, where searching the trademark database is more complicated. That way, they can claim new product names but keep them more-or-less secret.

My search for Facebook’s new name took a slightly different path. I ended up using a DNS search engine to find domains that have the same name servers and email servers as Facebook’s corporate entities. And there are a lot — over four thousand domains use the a.ns.facebook.com name server — but I did not see an obvious rebrand among them. There are the domains of several companies acquired by Facebook, like Wit, Egg, and Scape, that might be fine enough names, but none stood out to me. I also found out that Facebook owns oceaniaramen.com for some reason.

So, a dead end. But perhaps a clue: I did see that meta.com, which is already owned by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, was last updated yesterday and, until today, redirected to meta.org. It has since stopped redirecting.