FTC drops bid to block Meta’s acquisition of Within

The Federal Trade Commission has given up trying to prevent Meta from buying VR company Within. According to Bloomberg And The Wall Street Journalthe agency voted to drop its administrative case against the company a few weeks after a federal court rejected its request for a preliminary injunction to block the acquisition.

The FTC originally filed antitrust lawsuits in federal and state court last year in an effort to prevent Meta from picking up the company that developed the virtual reality workout app Supernatural. At the time, the commission accused Meta of “trying to buy its way to the top…rather than earning it on merit”. It said the company had the resources to “enter the VR fitness market by building its own app” and that doing so would increase consumer choice and innovation. By buying Within, the FTC reportedly nips Meta’s “future innovation and competitive rivalry” in the bud.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, who oversaw the federal case, ruled in favor of Meta. While he reportedly agreed that mergers that could potentially harm competition in the future should be blocked, he concluded that the FTC could not provide sufficient evidence to show how Within’s acquisition would harm the market. He also said that while Meta has huge resources, it “did not have the available viable means to enter the relevant market other than through acquisition.”

Technically, Davila’s ruling had no direct effect on the administrative case. If The news notes, however, that antitrust officials have previously dropped administrative lawsuits when federal courts deny a court order. Now Meta can rest assured that when it completed the acquisition of Within on February 8, the deal was truly final.

“We are thrilled that the Within team has joined Meta, and we are excited to partner with this talented group to bring the future of VR fitness to life,” a Meta spokesperson told Engadget .

The FTC’s withdrawal represents one of the most pertinent losses under the leadership of Lina Khan, who is known as a leading critic of Big Tech and a leading antitrust investigator. In December, the agency took on an even bigger challenge than this one when it filed an antitrust complaint to block Microsoft’s planned $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Microsoft would have both the means and motive to harm competition by manipulating Activision’s prices, degrading Activision’s game quality or player experience on rival consoles and game services, altering or completely withholding content from competitors harms consumers,” the FTC said.

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