A federal judge has ruled with Meta, the parent company of Facebook, and let it to purchase a virtual reality firm.
Maker of the well-known fitness app Supernatural, Within UnlimitedFederal antitrust authorities argued that the transaction would harm competition in the developing virtual reality market and had sought to prohibit it.
However, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila turned down the Federal Trade Commission’s request for a temporary halt to the transaction. According to the judge’s decision, the agency did not present enough proof to support its claims.According to Meta, the acquisition of Within Unlimited will now go ahead.
The FTC had contended that Meta’s acquisition of the small business would reduce competition in the rapidly developing virtual reality market, similar to Facebook’s early purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp.
The FTC had contended that allowing the tech giant to acquire Los Angeles-based Within Unlimited would violate antitrust laws, stifle innovation, and harm customers who could pay more and have fewer options outside of Meta-controlled platforms.Following the decision’s unsealing late on Friday, Meta Platforms Inc. released a statement in which it expressed its “satisfaction” with the outcome.
The deal, according to the business based in Menlo Park, California, “will deliver pro-competitive benefits to the ecosystem and stimulate innovation that will benefit users, developers, and the VR space more broadly.” “We anticipate consummating the acquisition soon,”The FTC had alleged that when Meta decided to purchase Within Unlimited in the summer of 2021, it abandoned its own aspirations to enter the emerging VR fitness sector.
The government claims that without the competitive threat of the tech giant entering the market independently, innovation freezes, harming end consumers.Hal Singer, an economist who testified as a witness for the FTC, said that “the threat is what keeps enterprises going.” If I am aware that there is a possibility that someone might enter and steal my food, he said.
But Meta executives—including CEO Mark Zuckerberg—sought to play down the notion that the company was anywhere close to creating its own VR fitness app. The Meta CEO testified that even though his company was “looking at” developing its own VR fitness app before deciding to acquire Within Unlimited in 2021, the business environment has changed and “there is almost no chance” it would start such a project today.
Under Zuckerberg’s, Meta moved aggressively into virtual reality in 2014 with its acquisition of headset maker Oculus VR. Since then, Meta’s VR headsets have become the cornerstone of its growth in the virtual reality space, the FTC noted in its suit.
Fueled by the popularity of its top-selling Quest headsets, Meta’s Quest Store has become a leading U.S. app platform with more than 500 apps available to download, according to the agency.
The FTC stated that Meta currently has one of the largest virtual reality content portfolios in the world after purchasing seven of the most successful virtual reality production companies.
However, Davila’s decision states that the FTC was required to present “at least circumstantial evidence” that Meta’s entry into the VR fitness industry on its own, rather than through the acquisition, would have positively impacted consumers by fostering healthy competition.