FTC drops Mark Zuckerberg from lawsuit seeking to block Meta’s latest VR acquisition

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Zuckerberg will no longer be a named defendant in the suit, according to a joint court filing by Meta and the FTC dated Tuesday. As part of the agreement, Zuckerberg will not attempt to purchase Within in his personal capacity, the filing said. Within is the maker of a popular virtual fitness program known as Supernatural, and the FTC has alleged Meta is trying to unlawfully establish a “virtual reality empire” by gobbling up possible threats to its own future dominance in VR. Meta has disputed that Supernatural is a direct competitor to VR apps that it already owns, such as Beat Saber, and denies that the acquisition would reduce competition.

Meta declined to comment for this story.

Meta had asked the FTC to remove Zuckerberg from the case, according to a person familiar with the matter. It is not clear whether Meta had proposed the new commitment for Zuckerberg, or if the FTC had sought the condition.

The closely watched lawsuit is a both a bellwether for Meta as it seeks to pivot significantly into the virtual reality space — which Zuckerberg and others have sought to re-brand as “the metaverse” — as well as the FTC, which in bringing the suit is attempting to showcase the potential future harms companies may inflict on competition in new and emerging industries.