Meta Platform, the parent company of Facebook, has its eyes on a $400 million acquisition of virtual reality developer Supernatural. The deal is part of Meta’s aggressive push into metaverse technology. However, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has concern and an ongoing investigation is putting the brakes on finalizing the deal.
According to The Information, FTC started a probe into the Meta and Supernatural acquisition. FTC has been investigating the merger since November, shortly after Thanksgiving.
It now seems the probe is halting Meta’s timeline for wrapping up the deal. It could mean the company will not be able to complete the purchase in 2022. So, if approval is given the deal for Supernatural will not close until 2023.
While the specifics of FTC’s concerns are not known, it is likely part of an overall drive to prevent tech giants from shutting down competition.
There are two ways this could happen. Firstly, the Big Tech company buys the smaller provider, essentially removing a potential competitor from the market. Secondly, by purchasing enough rivals that the Big Tech company holds a monopoly.
Of course, Meta is not alone in this kind of aggressive market activity. In fact, Microsoft has been one of the most consistent tech buyers in recent years. I am writing this story just a day after Microsoft signaled intentions to buy Activision Blizzard for $68 billion.
FTC Chair Lina Kahn is focusing on preventing such aggressive market takeovers. This seems to be the reason for investigating Meta’s interest in Supernatural. Importantly, there is no indication approval will not be given, just that Meta must now wait longer for clearance.
While I think any obstacle to stop Meta/Facebook becoming the dominant player in the metaverse is a good thing, the shift is underway. We have already reported how Microsoft is bleeding top development talent to Meta, and how Apple is paying massive bonuses to stop the same happening to them.
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