In October 2021, media outlets reported that the parent company of Facebook planned to change its name to "reflect its focus on building the metaverse", it was rebranded as Meta later that month on October 28. The word "meta" comes from the Greek language and means "beyond", indicating the futuristic motive.
Billboard on the Thomson Reuters building welcomes Facebook to NASDAQ, 2012
Early chart of Facebook's stock
Facebook corporate logo from 2019 to 2021
Facebook filed for an initial public offering (IPO) on January 1, 2012. The preliminary prospectus stated that the company sought to raise $5 billion, had 845 million monthly active users, and a website accruing 2.7 billion likes and comments daily. After the IPO, Zuckerberg would retain a 22% ownership share in Facebook and would own 57% of the voting shares.
Underwriters valued the shares at $38 each, valuing the company at $104 billion, the largest valuation to date for a newly public company. On May 16, one day before the IPO, Facebook announced it would sell 25% more shares than originally planned due to high demand. The IPO raised $16 billion, making it the third-largest in US history (slightly ahead of AT&T Wireless and behind only General Motors and Visa). The stock price left the company with a higher market capitalization than all but a few U.S. corporations—surpassing heavyweights such as Amazon, McDonald's, Disney, and Kraft Foods—and made Zuckerberg's stock worth $19 billion.The New York Times stated that the offering overcame questions about Facebook's difficulties in attracting advertisers to transform the company into a "must-own stock". Jimmy Lee of JPMorgan Chase described it as "the next great blue-chip". Writers at TechCrunch, on the other hand, expressed skepticism, stating, "That's a big multiple to live up to, and Facebook will likely need to add bold new revenue streams to justify the mammoth valuation".
Trading in the stock, which began on May 18, was delayed that day due to technical problems with the NASDAQ exchange. The stock struggled to stay above the IPO price for most of the day, forcing underwriters to buy back shares to support the price. At closing bell, shares were valued at $38.23, only $0.23 above the IPO price and down $3.82 from the opening bell value. The opening was widely described by the financial press as a disappointment. The stock nonetheless set a new record for trading volume of an IPO. On May 25, 2012, the stock ended its first full week of trading at $31.91, a 16.5% decline.
On May 2, 2014, Zuckerberg announced that the company would be changing its internal motto from "Move fast and break things" to "Move fast with stable infrastructure". The earlier motto had been described as Zuckerberg's "prime directive to his developers and team" in a 2009 interview in Business Insider, in which he also said, "Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough."
In 2018, Oculus lead Jason Rubin sent his 50-page vision document titled The Metaverse to Facebook's leadership. In the document, Rubin acknowledges that Facebook's virtual reality business didn't catch on as expected, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on content for early adopters. He also urged the company to execute fast and go big on the vision, to shut out HTC, Apple, Google and other competitors in the VR space. Regarding other players' participation in the metaverse vision, he wrote: “Let’s build the Metaverse to keep them from being in the VR business in a meaningful way at all.”
In May 2019, Facebook founded Libra Networks, reportedly to develop their own stablecoincryptocurrency. In recent developments it has been reported that Libra is being supported by financial companies like Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Uber. The consortium of companies is expected to pool in $10 million each to fund the launch of the cryptocurrency coin named Libra. Depending on when it receives approval from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory authority to operate as a payments service, the Libra Association plans to launch a limited format cryptocurrency in 2021.
In February 2014, Facebook, Inc. announced it would buy mobile messaging company WhatsApp for US$19 billion in cash and stock. Later that year, Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2.3 billion in stock and cash, which released its first consumer virtual reality headset in 2016.
In late November 2019, Facebook, Inc. announced the acquisition of game developer Beat Games, responsible for developing one of the year's most popular VR titles, Beat Saber.
In April 2020, Facebook, Inc. announced a $5.7-billion deal with the Indian multinational conglomerate Reliance Industries to purchase approximately 10 percent of Jio Platforms, Reliance's digital media and services entity.
In May 2020, Facebook, Inc. announced it had acquired Giphy for a reported cash price of $400 million. It will be integrated with the Instagram team. However, in August 2021, UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) stated that Facebook, Inc. might have to sell Giphy, after an investigation found that the deal between the two companies would harm competition in display advertising market. Facebook, Inc. was fined $70 million by CMA for deliberately failing to report all information regarding the acquisition and the ongoing antitrust investigation.
Facebook, Inc. announced in November 2020 that it planned to purchase the customer-service platform and chatbot specialist startup Kustomer to promote companies to use their platform for business. It has been reported that Kustomer valued at slightly over $1 billion.
In 2020, Facebook, Inc. spent $19.7 million on lobbying, hiring 79 lobbyists. In 2019, it had spent $16.7 million on lobbying and had a team of 71 lobbyists, up from $12.6 million and 51 lobbyists in 2018.
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Facebook, Inc./Meta has been involved in multiple lawsuits since its founding.
In March 2020, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) sued Facebook, for significant and persistent infringements of the rule on privacy involving the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. Every violation of the Privacy Act is subject to a theoretical cumulative liability of $1.7 million. The OAIC estimated that a total of 311,127 Australians had been exposed.
On December 8, 2020, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and 46 states (excluding Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and South Dakota), the District of Columbia and the territory of Guam, launched Federal Trade Commission v. Facebook as an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. The lawsuit concerns Facebook's acquisition of two competitors—Instagram and WhatsApp—and the ensuing monopolistic situation. FTC alleges that Facebook holds monopolistic power in the US social networking market and seeks to force the company to divest from Instagram and WhatsApp to break up the conglomerate.William Kovacic, a former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, argued the case will be difficult to win as it would require the government to create a counterfactual argument of an internet where the Facebook-WhatsApp-Instagram entity did not exist, and prove that harmed competition or consumers.
Following a period of intense scrutiny and damaging whistleblower leaks, news started to emerge on October 21, 2021 about Facebook's plan to rebrand the company and to change its name. In the Q3 2021 Earnings Call, on October 25, Mark Zuckerberg discussed the ongoing criticism of the company's social services and the way it operates, and pointed to the pivoting efforts to building the metaverse - without mentioning the rebranding and the name change. The metaverse vision and the name change from Facebook, Inc. to Meta Platforms was introduced at Facebook Connect on October 28, 2021. Based on Facebook's PR campaign, the name change reflects the company's shifting long term focus of building the metaverse, a digital extension of the physical world by social media, virtual reality and augmented reality features.
"Meta" had been registered as a trademark in the United States in 2018 (after an initial filing in 2015) for marketing, advertising, and computer services, by a Canadian company that provided big data analysis of scientific literature. This company had been acquired in 2017 by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), a foundation established by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, and became one of their projects. Following the Facebook/Meta rebranding announcement, CZI announced that it had already decided to deprioritize the earlier Meta project, that it would be transferring its rights to the name to Meta Platforms, and that the project would be sunset in 2022.
Early Facebook investor and former Zuckerberg mentor Roger McNamee described Facebook as having "the most centralized decision-making structure I have ever encountered in a large company."Nathan Schneider, a professor of media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder argued for transforming Facebook into a platform cooperative owned and governed by the users.
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has stated that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has too much power, that the company is now a monopoly, and that, as a result, it should be split into multiple smaller companies. In an op-ed in The New York Times, Hughes said he was concerned that Zuckerberg had surrounded himself with a team that did not challenge him, and that it is the U.S. government's job to hold him accountable and curb his "unchecked power." He also said that "Mark's power is unprecedented and unamerican." Several U.S. politicians agreed with Hughes. European Union Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager stated that splitting Facebook should be done only as "a remedy of the very last resort", and that it would not solve Facebook's underlying problems.
Facebook ranked No. 34 in the 2020 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by revenue, with almost $86 billion in revenue. Most comes from advertising. One analysis of 2017 data determined that the company earned US$20.21 per user from advertising.
Number of advertisers
In February 2015, Facebook announced it had reached two million active advertisers, with most of the gain coming from small businesses. An active advertiser was defined as an entity that had advertised on the Facebook platform in the last 28 days. In March 2016, Facebook announced it had reached three million active advertisers with more than 70% from outside the United States. Prices for advertising follow a variable pricing model based on auctioning ad placements, and potential engagement levels of the advertisement itself. Similar to other online advertising platforms like Google and Twitter, targeting of advertisements is one of the chief merits of digital advertising compared to traditional media. Marketing on Meta is employed through two methods based on the viewing habits, likes and shares, and purchasing data of the audience, namely targeted audiences and "look alike" audiences.
The US IRS challenged the valuation Facebook used when it transferred IP from the US to Facebook Ireland in 2010 (which Facebook Ireland then revalued higher before charging out), as it was building its double Irish tax structure. The case is ongoing and Meta faces a potential fine of $3–5bn.
The US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 changed Facebook's global tax calculations. Facebook Ireland is subject to the US GILTI tax of 10.5% on global intangible profits (i.e. Irish profits). On the basis that Facebook Ireland is paying some tax, the effective minimum US tax for Facebook Ireland will be circa 11%. In contrast, Meta Inc. would incur a special IP tax rate of 13.125% (the FDII rate) if its Irish business relocated to the US. Tax relief in the US (21% vs. Irish at the GILTI rate) and accelerated capital expensing, would make this effective US rate around 12%.
The insignificance of the US/Irish tax difference was demonstrated when Facebook moved 1.5bn non-EU accounts to the US to limit exposure to GDPR.
Facebook opened its London headquarters in 2017 in Fitzrovia in central London. Facebook opened an office in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2018. The offices were initially home to the "Connectivity Lab", a group focused on bringing Internet access to those who do not have access to the Internet.
As of 2019, Facebook operated 16 data centers. It committed to purchase 100% renewable energy and to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 75% by 2020. Its data center technologies include Fabric Aggregator, a distributed network system that accommodates larger regions and varied traffic patterns.
US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded in a tweet to Zuckerberg's announcement about Meta, saying "Meta as in 'we are a cancer to democracy metastasizing into a global surveillance and propaganda machine for boosting authoritarian regimes and destroying civil society… for profit!'"
Ex-Facebook employee Frances Haugen and whistleblower behind the Facebook Papers responded to the rebranding efforts by expressing doubts about the company's ability to improve while led by Mark Zuckerberg, and urged the CEO to resign.