Late Wednesday, to the shock and dismay of free-speech loving conservatives, Parler CEO John Matze announced the company’s board has terminated his employment. The platform remains offline after being silenced by Apple, Google, and ultimately Amazon Web Services.
Matze co-founded Parler in 2018 with Jared Thomson and Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer. According to Matze, who said he did not participate in the decision, the Parler board decided to terminate his position. The former CEO wrote in a memo obtained by Fox News, “On Jan. 29, 2021, the Parler board controlled by Rebekah Mercer decided to immediately terminate my position as CEO of Parler. I did not participate in this decision,” Matze continued, “I understand that those who now control the company have made some communications to employees and other third parties that have unfortunately created confusion and prompted me to make this public statement.”
Matze, who has been an outspoken advocate for free speech after his company was crushed by AWS, indicated he has faced “constant resistance” to his original vision for Parler over the past several months following AWS’s decision to shut down the 15 million user Twitter alternative. He says he faced resistance against how to manage the social media site, as well as his strong belief in free speech, adding as an example, “I advocated for more product stability and what I believe is a more effective approach to content moderation.”
Matze told Reuters that Parler now has an “executive committee” consisting of Matthew Richardson and Mark Meckler and that he had not been given a settlement. Parler investor and conservative media personality Dan Bongino spoke up late Wednesday in an impromptu press conference on Facebook, contradicting Matze’s account of what led to his termination.
In the video, Bongino says that Matze’s statement “is an outrageous attack on people who have done nothing but work day and night to get this site back up and to fight back against these cancel culture goons. And to get knee-capped like this by someone we trusted is a disgrace.” He indicates internal conflict, saying “the relationship with Parler and the CEO did not work out because the CEO’s vision was not ours.”
With its remarkable growth following Twitter’s permanent removal of President Trump’s account, Parler quickly realized it needed to focus on how it policed content. Even still, none of the tech giants indicated Parler was breaking the rules. Matze has said that he considers the decision by the big tech oligarch to censor and silence Parler to be a “coordinated attack” to “kill competition in the market place.”
As previously reported by UncoverDC, Parler filed a lawsuit against AWS, claiming the tech giant violated antitrust law and the company’s contractual agreement by terminating its services. On Jan. 22, District Judge Barbara Rothstein rejected Parler’s request to order Amazon to restore web service but said she was not dismissing Parler’s claims against Amazon. In the meantime, Parler has been in talks with several other companies about hosting its platform, but the results of those conversations are unclear.
In his statement to Parler staff, Matze, who has been hiding with his family due to death threats, indicates he will take a few weeks off before exploring his options. He wrote, “After that, I’ll be looking for new opportunities where my technical acumen, vision, and the causes I am passionate about will be required and respected. I want to thank all the people of Parler that supported me and the platform. This has been the true American Dream: an idea from a living room to a company of considerable value. I’m not saying goodbye, just so long for now.”