CTRL Freak

Facebook's acquisition

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What's going on?

According to reports on Tuesday, Facebook has agreed to acquire CTRL-Labs – an American neural interface startup – for between $500 million and $1 billion. Where do they get their ideas?

What does this mean?

CTRL-Labs has created a wristband that senses signals from the wearer’s brain and turns them into actions on a device. The plan is for users to be able to operate tech – whether smartphones, tablets, or wearables – without moving a muscle. CTRL-Labs’ ambitions have already caught investors’ imaginations: it’s raised almost $70 million from private investors to date, and can namecheck Amazon and Google’s venture capital arms among its early backers.

Facebook’s given a thumbs up to similar companies in the past. It bought virtual reality startup Oculus in 2014, likely in an effort to catch consumers’ eyes – not just their fingertips – as their relationship with hardware continues to evolve.

Why should I care?

For markets: Facebook’s a savvy shopper.

Facebook’s stock initially rose on Tuesday, perhaps because investors trust the company’s good form in making acquisitions. Its 2014 purchase of WhatsApp saw it become the de facto messaging service for most of the world, and put an end to Blackberry once and for all (remember them?). And according to some analysts, Instagram – which was bought by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012 – is now worth over 100 times that, accounting for most of the future growth behind the company’s current $535 billion market valuation (tweet this).

Zooming out: Don’t you know who I am?

While US regulators’ antitrust investigations into big tech firms are intensifying, Google notched a win against European regulators on Tuesday. The European Union wanted European consumers’ “right to be forgotten” to extend globally – but the courts found in Google’s favor. The search giant will still make it almost impossible for Europeans (including the UK, for now) to access outdated links. If you’re Stateside, though, you’ll have unfettered access in all but extreme cases to information that Europeans don’t.

Originally posted as part of the Finimize daily email.

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