Meta Inc. formerly Facebook Inc. had October this year acquired virtual reality fitness developer, Supernatural, with the VR fitness subscription service having to join the Mark Zuckerberg owned company completely. The acquisition will see all Supernatural staffs joining Meta including its CEO, Chris Milk, with the startup helmsman affirming that the acquisition will give his firm “more resources to expand”.
The investigation confirms the scrutiny by antitrust regulators on Meta for its heavy and intentional investments in the metaverse project.
Questions and posers have been raised behind Meta’s recent interest in VR startups as against social media firms acquisition like that of the 2012 acquisition of Instagram by Facebook, with many sceptical on the motives, with some sections branding them ulterior.
In the journal report by The Information, Meta’s previous five VR buyouts were not properly investigated by the government, and because each acquisition was too small to raise any red flag, they were not by any official authoritarian agency.
“Meta’s first five VR app acquisitions went through without a hitch because they were too small to trigger a cursory review by U.S. antitrust regulators. But those regulators are slowing down the $400 million-plus Supernatural deal, according to two people with knowledge of the situation,” the report stated.
“Shortly after Thanksgiving, the Federal Trade Commission opened an in-depth probe of the acquisition, meaning Meta may not be able to finalize the acquisition for another year, assuming the agency doesn’t formally challenge the deal in court, causing additional delays,” it added.
From what is applicable, it seems the FTC may be intentionally using the Supernatural VR startup acquisition by Meta to pressurize the social networking company to have the last saying in its lawsuit in unwinding the purchases of both Instagram and messaging app WhatsApp.
Mark Zuckerberg’s investment in the Metaverse has raised many questions from the public and even the authorities; given that the company has a majority market share of it, due to the early triumph of its Quest 2 headset in the market.
The probe by FCC will put on hold any plans Meta has to hasten its purchase of the most robust VR startup on the market, whether or not the federal agency gives its approval or not, for now, these plans are paused until further notice.