Meta, formerly Facebook, is firmly in the crosshairs of the FTC over its various acquisitions that the agency says may have been made to dominate the space and knock out the competition. According to The informationOne of the acquisitions the Federal Trade Commission is investigating is the $400 million deal to acquire Within, the developer of the popular virtual reality training app Supernatural for the Oculus platform.
The agency reportedly opened an investigation into the purchase after Thanksgiving, nearly a month after the companies announced the acquisition in October. If the report is true — neither the FTC nor the companies have confirmed the publication’s regulatory assessment — then Within and Meta could not close the deal for another year. It could take even longer if the agency challenges it in court.
Within wasn’t the only VR app developer to take over Meta, but the others were apparently too small to be researched. VR fitness apps, such as home workout equipment, became hugely popular during the lockdown and Supernatural quickly became popular after its April 2020 launch. The information notes, one of the possible lines of inquiry from the FTC is whether Meta planned to develop its own VR workout app. After all, it takes Meta less time to buy an existing product than to make one.
Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg has said in the past that “it’s better to buy than to compete,” in reference to Facebook’s Instagram acquisition. The FTC recently filed new antitrust charges against the company, accusing it of using its Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions in 2012 and 2014 to secure its position in the market. Meta is also still facing an investigation into the reported $400 million Giphy purchase in 2020.