FTC Chair Lina Khan chose not to listen to staff recommendations regarding bringing a suit against Meta to block its acquisition of virtual reality (VR) company Within Unlimited, Bloomberg reported Friday (July 29), citing unnamed sources.
An FTC spokesperson told PYMNTS Friday afternoon that the commission had no comment beyond its original complaint.
The FTC announced Wednesday (July 27) that it wanted to stop the sale, which would include Within Unlimited’s VR fitness app Supernatural.
“Instead of competing on the merits, Meta is trying to buy its way to the top,” said FTC Bureau of Competition Deputy Director John Newman Wednesday. “Meta already owns a best-selling virtual reality fitness app, and it had the capabilities to compete even more closely with Within’s popular Supernatural app. But Meta chose to buy market position instead of earning it on the merits. This is an illegal acquisition, and we will pursue all appropriate relief.”
Meta has called the case meritless, with Nikhil Shanbhag — the social networking giant’s associate general counsel — arguing the suit is “based on ideology and speculation, not evidence,” in a company blog post.
“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,” he wrote in the Wednesday post. “By attacking this deal in a 3-2 vote, the FTC is sending a chilling message to anyone who wishes to innovate in VR. We are confident that our acquisition of Within will be good for people, developers and the VR space.”
The FTC’s five commissioners — three Democrats and two Republicans — voted 3-2 along party lines to file the complaint, Bloomberg reported. Each of the commissioners had the chance to test Meta’s Oculus product, Within’s Supernatural and Meta’s Beat Saber.