Facebook reportedly called off talks to buy Houseparty over fears a deal would attract unwanted antitrust scrutiny

REUTERS/Leah MilliFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Facebook killed off talks to buy the video-chat app Houseparty late last year over concerns a deal could draw unwanted antitrust scrutiny, sources told The New York Times.
  • Houseparty gained huge popularity with under-24s last year, and was bought by the “Fortnite” developer Epic Games in June.
  • Facebook’s acquisitions, including Instagram and WhatsApp, have been a particular point of criticism by lawmakers who want to see the company broken up.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook killed off talks to buy a video-chat app popular with teens out of fear a deal might draw attention from antitrust regulators, The New York Times reported Monday.

Houseparty is an app that allows multiple people to video chat at once, and it became hugely popular with under-24s, a market Facebook was eager to recapture.

Two sources familiar with the matter told The Times that Facebook was in “advanced discussions” to buy Houseparty in December but that the social-media giant’s corporate-development team stepped in to head off a deal, fearing one might draw yet more scrutiny from lawmakers. Houseparty was later bought by Epic Games, the game studio behind “Fortnite,” in June.


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Facebook and Silicon Valley as a whole have faced heightened antitrust scrutiny this year. The company formally announced in July that it was the subject of an ongoing Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation.

Its acquisitions, in particular, are a point of contention, with lawmakers like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts calling for Facebook to be broken apart from its subsidiaries such as Instagram and WhatsApp.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has opposed the idea of breaking up the company, saying Facebook’s giant scale affords it the resources to fight abuse on all its platforms. Earlier this month, it was reported that the company was rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp to “Instagram from Facebook” and “WhatsApp from Facebook,” possibly an attempt at cementing its ownership in the eyes of antitrust officials.

Facebook and Houseparty were not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.

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