Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
- Mark Zuckerberg (mostly) owns Facebook.
- He founded Facebook and is now the CEO of its parent company, Meta.
- Besides Facebook, Meta’s products include WhatsApp, Instagram, Threads, and the Horizon metaverse.
Meta, formerly known as the Facebook Company, is publicly traded, so it’s not owned by a single person or company. But Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg still mostly owns and controls it with his majority stake.
Going all in on Zuckerberg’s metaverse bet, Facebook became Meta in 2021.
Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, runs the umbrella of products that live under the corporate Meta name. These include the social network Facebook, messaging app WhatsApp, image-centric social platform Instagram, Twitter rival Threads, and the Horizon metaverse.
“From now on, we’ll be metaverse first, not Facebook first,” Zuckerberg said in 2021 of the rebrand.
Meta stock is publicly traded on NASDAQ. Its ticker symbol is META.
Because Meta is publicly traded, anyone with enough cash and a brokerage account can buy individual shares. The stock is also included in many index funds that ordinary investors might hold.
The largest institutional shareholder of Meta Platforms Inc. is Vanguard Group Inc.
Facebook’s IPO on May 18, 2012, was the biggest tech IPO in history at the time. The initial public offering raised $16 billion.
Some of those funds went toward growing Facebook’s footprint. In the 2010s, the company made several high-profile acquisitions, shelling out $19 billion for WhatsApp, $2 billion for Oculus, and $1 billion for Instagram.
Facebook’s growth has not been without controversy: The decade saw several Facebook scandals, including hacks, data privacy scandals, and scrutiny over its handling of political content on the platform.
But with its family of apps reaching billions, Facebook was a financially healthy company that could support its business through the sale of targeted advertising to a gigantic user base.
That business model came under threat in 2021 when Apple introduced a privacy update into its software that gave iPhone users the option to “Ask App Not To Track” their browsing behavior. On a call discussing fourth-quarter Meta earnings for 2022, CFO David Wehner said the iOS 14.5 update erased $10 billion from the company’s bottom line.
2022 was also the year when a string of executives departed, including John Carmack, the consulting CTO for Meta’s VR division, and longtime COO Sheryl Sandberg. As Zuckerberg’s inner circle shrank, a new Zuckerberg up for a fight — physically and metaphorically — emerged.
This leader was different from Zuckerberg’s past image as an optimistic Silicon Valley entrepreneur who liked to “move fast and break things.” He now presented as more cautious and focused on efficiency as a means of pleasing shareholders — even if that means major Meta layoffs, as was the case in late 2022 and spring of 2023, when the company slashed staff by 24%.