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HomeNewsMark Zuckerberg testifies about Meta’s virtual reality ambitions

Mark Zuckerberg testifies about Meta’s virtual reality ambitions

Meta has been spending billions of dollars to develop virtual reality products and has bought many startups over time, is trying to use the deal for Within and other small companies to become a power in the emerging field of the metaverse.

Written by Sheera Frenkel and David McCabe

Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta, was asked a series of questions in federal court on Tuesday about his aspirations for the immersive online world of the metaverse.

Was his company interested in virtual reality? Was it investing in augmented reality? Zuckerberg responded with clipped yes and no answers until a lawyer asked whether Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, was “trying to shape the future of technology.”

Zuckerberg hesitated, moved in his seat and replied, “Yes. That’s a fairly broad statement, but yes.”

The exchange came on the seventh day of a hearing in San Jose that has the potential to reshape how tech behemoths buy startups and to stretch the boundaries of antitrust law. The case is set to determine whether the Federal Trade Commission will be granted an injunction to block Meta’s $400 million acquisition of Within, a small company that makes a popular virtual reality fitness game.

The FTC’s challenge of the acquisition is highly unusual. While antitrust law has traditionally focused on preventing deals in established markets and mature areas, the agency is arguing that Meta’s acquisition of Within could snuff out competition in a nascent market — virtual reality — before it’s even clear if that market will thrive. If the FTC blocks the deal, it could set a precedent for antitrust law.

The stakes are high for both sides. Lina Khan, the FTC chair and prominent critic of Silicon Valley, has pledged to check the tech giants’ power and take them to court more often. She has signaled that she is willing to sustain courtroom losses if they help expand the uses of antitrust law.

And Meta, which has been spending billions of dollars to develop virtual reality products and has bought many startups over time, is trying to use the deal for Within and other small companies to become a power in the emerging field of the metaverse.

Meta announced it would buy Within in October 2021, soon after Zuckerberg declared that his social network was transforming itself into a metaverse company. In a blog post about the Within deal, Meta was effusive.

“We believe fitness will be a massive success in VR,” Jason Rubin, a Meta vice president, wrote at the time.

Source:indianexpress.com

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