Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg took the stand Tuesday on Day 7 of the Federal Trade Commission’s case to block Meta’s $400 million acquisition of VR fitness app maker Within — and didn’t hesitate to hype what’s on the line.
When asked if the company he co-founded as Facebook was “trying to shape the future of technology” as a purveyor of the metaverse under its new name Meta
Zuckerberg minced no words: “Yes, that’s a fairly broad statement, but yes.”
Such are the stakes in a case that could both define the limits of antitrust law and decide whether Meta can build on its metaverse dreams with Within, maker of the app Supernatural. The hearing in San Jose, Calif., will determine whether the FTC is granted an injunction to stop the deal, and fulfill FTC Chair Lina Khan’s quest to check tech titans’ power in court.
Meta has poured billions of dollars into its pursuit of developing virtual-reality products that transport consumers to an immersive world. But its hunt has been hobbled by a $10 billion loss tied to the division housing its VR and AR products during the recently-completed quarter, internal squabbling, and the abrupt resignation last week of VR pioneer John Carmack, an eight-year Facebook/Meta veteran.
“It has been a struggle for me,” Carmack wrote in a post in which he called Meta’s metaverse push as one bedeviled by bureaucracy, concerns over diversity and security, and a “ridiculous amount of people and resources.” Carmack testified in the Within case last week.
Zuckerberg’s star witness turn Tuesday was his first court testimony since 2017, when he appeared in federal court as Facebook lost a case over accusations from a videogame publisher that Oculus, which Facebook bought for more than $2 billion, stole its intellectual property.