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Meta wins ruling against FTC to move forward with purchase of VR startup Within

Virtual reality company Within may be acquired by Meta. The story claims that Judge Edward Davila filed a secret ruling rejecting the FTC’s plea to halt the deal.

In July, the FTC filed a lawsuit against Meta to prevent its acquisition of Within, the developers of the virtual reality (VR) fitness software Supernatural, on the grounds that the deal would hurt competition in the VR fitness market. And it’s true that Meta has a history of scooping up promising VR innovation to fuel their multi-billion dollar wager on the metaverse.

The FTC sued Within in December, claiming that their Supernatural app unfairly competes with Beat Saber, a popular virtual reality (VR) rhythm game that some people use as a form of exercise.

At the start of2019, Meta acquired Beat Games, the developer of Beat Saber. Meta even brought Oculus on board in 2014 after spending $2 billion to acquire the hardware business powering its flagship Quest headsets. And in the last hours of 2022, Meta announced that it had acquired smart eyewear maker Luxexcel. The financial specifics of these agreements are unknown at this time.

The FTC questioned Zuckerberg in court, and government attorneys showed him emails from March 2021 proposing a relationship between Beat Saber and Peloton. Due in part to the company’s poor financial position, Zuckerberg has said that a sale of this kind is off the table and has so far not been pursued. Since Meta is in a worse financial position today (in part owing to changes in Apple policy, he said), a cooperation between Beat Saber and Peloton is now untenable.

As for health, Zuckerberg claims that it is not a top priority for him in virtual reality, instead preferring to concentrate on its social, gaming, and productive applications. The Quest Pro, a new headset from Meta, is a high-powered option for telecommuters.

Even if Judge Davila gives Meta the green light to proceed with the transaction, Bloomberg claims that the FTC would temporarily block the company from doing so until it determines what to do next.