FTC sues to block Facebook parent from buying VR company

The Federal Trade Commission asked a court on Wednesday to temporarily stop Facebook parent Meta Platforms from buying virtual reality content maker Within Unlimited, according to a court filing.

The FTC, which filed an unrelated antitrust lawsuit against Facebook in 2020, argued in the document filed on Wednesday that Facebook is a “global technology behemoth,” noting that it owns a number of popular apps, including Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp.

The agency argued that the acquisition of Within by Facebook would “tend to create a monopoly” in the market for virtual reality-dedicated fitness apps. Within has a popular fitness app called “Supernatural.” Facebook agreed to buy Within in 2021.

Meta said in a statement that it disagreed with the FTC’s analysis of the market.

“The FTC’s case is based on ideology and speculation, not evidence. The idea that this acquisition would lead to anticompetitive outcomes in a dynamic space with as much entry and growth as online and connected fitness is simply not credible,” the company said.

“We are confident that our acquisition of Within will be good for people, developers, and the VR space,” Meta said.

Within, founded in 2014, creates original content for virtual reality. It describes itself as “the premier destination for cinematic virtual reality.”

Investors include venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, investment company Temasek, and movie makers like Disney, 21st Century Fox, Annapurna Pictures and Legendary Pictures, its website says.

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