Facebook parent Meta has received green signal to buy the virtual reality content maker Within Unlimited. A federal judge in the Northern District of California sided with Meta, allowing the social media giant to acquire the VR content maker. Judge Edward Davila rejected the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) appeal that claimed the deal would reduce competition in a new market.
According to the judge’s ruling, the agency did not provide sufficient evidence to prove its case. Following the ruling, Meta in a statement said that it is “pleased” with the decision and that it will proceed with its acquisition of Within Unlimited. “We look forward to closing the transaction soon,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Last year in December, Meta postponed its acquisition of the virtual reality studio that developed the popular fitness app “Supernatural”, till January 31. FTC took Meta to court to block the merger, alleging it to be anti-competitive. The regulator argued that Meta’s acquisition reduced competition in the potential “killer app” category of fitness apps. The new agreement was noted in a court filing with the United States District Court for the Northern District Of California.
In July last year, FTC sued Meta to stop the deal, calling Facebook a “global technology behemoth”. FTC in a statement said, “the agency alleges that Meta and Zuckerberg are planning to expand Meta’s virtual reality empire with this attempt to illegally acquire a dedicated fitness app that proves the value of virtual reality to users. ” The tech giant has previously acquired several other VR studios, including ‘Beat Games’, the developers of Beat Saber which is a popular VR rhythm game that some people use to work out. FTC has argued that Within Unlimited’s Supernatural app is a direct competitor to Beat Saber. Meta has denied the claim saying “Supernatural couldn’t be more different.”
Historically, Meta has acquired small social companies with the potential to become competitors like WhatsApp and Instagram. The regulator claimed that Meta’s proposed acquisition of Within would stifle competition and dampen innovation in the dynamic, rapidly growing U.S. markets for fitness and dedicated-fitness VR apps.