Parler co-founder and CEO John Matze in Washington on June 11, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Parler CEO John Matze Announces His Termination
Parler investor Dan Bongino disputes Matze’s statement over version of events
Parler CEO John Matze announced late Wednesday that he has been terminated as the company’s CEO.
Matze said that the Parler board on Jan. 29 decided to terminate his position, adding that he did not participate in the decision.
The Parler board is controlled by Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer.
Matze said in a memo obtained by The Epoch Times, “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.
“Over the past few months, I’ve met constant resistance to my product vision, my strong belief in free speech and my view of how the Parler site should be managed. For example, I advocated for more product stability and what I believe is a more effective approach to content moderation,” Matze added.
“Over the past few weeks, I have worked endless hours and fought constant battles to get the Parler site running but at this point, the future of Parler is no longer in my hands.”
Matze said that he plans on taking a few weeks off.
“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,” he said.
“I want to thank the Parler employees, the people on Parler and Parler supporters for their tireless work and devotion to the company. They are an amazing group of diverse, hardworking, and talented individuals and I have the utmost respect for them. Many of them have become my second family,” Matze added.
“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.”
Fox News was first to report on Matze’s termination.
Matze told Reuters that he had not been given a settlement. He added that Parler now has an “executive committee” consisting of Matthew Richardson and Mark Meckler.
Mercer, Richardson, Meckler, and Parler did not immediately respond to requests for comment by Reuters.
Dan Bongino, a conservative media personality and Parler investor, in a Facebook video disputed Matze’s version of events surrounding his termination.
“Let me be crystal clear on this. He [Matze] makes two points, that ‘oh I was a big advocate for free speech it was my vision’ and “I was a big advocate for product stability.’ That is not true. That is not true. That is false,” Bongino said, referring to the memo.
Bongino said that there were two separate visions for the company and that “the relationship with Parler and the CEO did not work out because the CEO’s vision was not ours.”
“Our vision was crystal clear,” he said. “We needed to get up and fight back some terrible decisions were made in the past that led to this—that led us to getting put down by Amazon and others. It was us—me and the two other owners—that were constantly on the side of ‘this site was going to be a free speech platform’ or it was going to be nothing.”
“Folks, we could have been up after Apple Amazon and Google wiped us out, we could have been up in a week if we just would’ve bent the knee and followed all the ridiculous Apple edicts to become a heavy moderation site to the left of Twitter,” Bongino noted. “That’s not what we’re going to do. We don’t want to want garbage on our site either and we took the proper steps to do that. But we were a free speech site and we’ll remain as such and that’s why it’s taken so long to get back up.”
Bongino said 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.”
In early January, Parler was removed from the Apple and Google‘s app stores due to what the two big tech giants alleged was a lack of moderation by the Parler of violent content posted by its users—a claim that Parler denies.
The targeted moderation by the companies appeared to be triggered by the civil unrest and acts of violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Apple has said that people used Parler to coordinate a breach of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6. Google, in suspending Parler from its app store, cited a post on Parler that began “How do we take back our country? About 20 or so coordinated hits” and another promoting a “Million Militia March” on Washington.
In a statement, Matze said in response to the suspensions, “Anyone who buys an Apple phone is apparently a user … Apparently they believe Parler is responsible for ALL user generated content on Parler. Therefore, by the same logic, Apple must be responsible for ALL actions taken by their phones. Every car bomb, every illegal cell phone conversation, every illegal crime committed on an iPhone.
“Standards not applied to Twitter, Facebook, or even Apple themselves, apply to Parler,” he added.
Shortly after, on Jan. 10, Amazon removed Parler from its web hosting services due to what Amazon said was Parler’s “repeated violations” of Amazon’s terms of service.
“Over the past several weeks, we’ve reported 98 examples to Parler of posts that clearly encourage and incite violence,” Amazon told a representative from Parler in January, in an email obtained by The Epoch Times.
Parler has been offline since. Its efforts to relaunch before February were not successful due to reasons unknown.
Parler sued Amazon on Jan. 11 and demanded that Amazon restore its web hosting services. U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein on Jan. 21 rejected Parler’s request.
Matze previously told The Epoch Times in mid-January that his company’s terms of service were approved by Apple, Amazon, and Google.
The technology giants had never indicated non-compliance, for the most part, before Parler saw an explosion of growth that occurred following the Twitter bans of prominent conservatives, including President Donald Trump. The wave of new arrivals left Parler scrambling to moderate its platform, Matze said.
He said that he believed the big tech companies’ decision against Parler is a “coordinated attack” to “kill competition in the market place.”
“We were too successful too fast,” he added.
Zachary Stieber, Janita Kan, and Reuters contributed to this report.
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