Zuckerberg and Meta Score Big Win Against FTC in Antitrust Lawsuit

The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Meta in July 2022, blocking it from purchasing the creator of the VR workout game Within.
Image source: Facebook

Quick take:

  • Meta Platforms has won a ruling against FTC in an antitrust lawsuit according to a report by Bloomberg.
  • The Federal Trade Commission blocked Zuckerberg and his company from buying VR startup Within in July 2022.
  • The ruling allows the social media conglomerate and metaverse company to proceed with the acquisition process.

Mark Zuckerberg and Meta appear to have put one over the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after winning the ruling in an antitrust lawsuit that prevented the social media conglomerate from acquiring VR startup Within Unlimited.

In a lawsuit filed last July by the FTC Chair Lina Khan blocking the acquisition, the US antitrust watchdog argued that if Meta buys the VR workout game maker, it would make the Facebook parent too powerful in a burgeoning industry.

FTC was pointing to rising concerns directed to regulators from industry competitors, which claimed it has become too easy for tech giants to buy their smaller counterparts.

“That lessening of competition may result in reduced innovation, quality, and choice, less pressure to compete for the most talented app developers, and potentially higher prices for VR fitness apps,” the FTC wrote in a legal complaint.

The social media giant has a history of buying upcoming VR companies to boost its quest to become a leader in the metaverse market. In 2014, it acquired VR headset maker Oculus for $2 billion, which has since grown to become a vital part of its mega plan for the metaverse.

Meta has since tweaked the branding and the tech to design its metaverse-focused VR device Quest Pro.

The company’s leading metaverse product, Horizon Worlds has, however, failed to gain traction according to a report published by Wall Street Journal in October last year.

Buying Within accelerates its metaverse campaign in what has been a challenging experience despite spending more than $36 billion to date.

Within Unlimited created the virtual reality workout app, Supernatural, which FTC in a court hearing in December argued is a direct competitor to Beat Saber, a popular VR rhythm that is widely used for workouts.

Beat Saber is a product of Beat Games, another VR startup acquired by Meta in 2019. It also purchased the smart eyewear company Luxexcel late last year. Meta has yet to disclose the details of these two acquisitions.

In various court appearances, Zuckerberg argued that although Within and Beat VR have two competing products, Meta’s vision for the acquisitions is centred on something other than fitness. Meta is focused on social, gaming and productivity use cases, he said.

According to Bloomberg, although Meta is clear to proceed with the acquisition, it could still be barred from completing the purchase if FTC decides to appeal the ruling made by Judge Edward Davila.


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