Parler CEO John Matze has been fired by the company’s board, according to a memo sent to staffers on Wednesday.
“On January 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 wrote to staffers in the memo obtained by Fox News. “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.”
Parler did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
In his memo to staffers, Matze said he’s “met constant resistance” from the board in recent months over his vision for the app and his “strong belief in free speech.” Mercer, the daughter of billionaire hedge fund investor Robert Mercer, co-founded and funded Parler. Like her father, she has been active in right-wing causes like Breitbart News and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Matze had become the public face of Parler, especially after the app shut down last month after Amazon Web Services terminated its web hosting services. That move came days after Apple and Google booted the right-wing social media app from their app stores.
Apple claimed the app — which had been embraced by many conservatives and people disenchanted with Twitter and Facebook’s moderation policies — did not take “adequate measures” to address “threats of violence and illegal activity” leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
Soon after, Amazon Web Services dropped Parler as well, claiming the app “poses a very real risk to public safety.” Matze later claimed Amazon booted the app because a company rep knew Trump was debating joining the app under the pseudonym “Person X.” Parler has struggled to stay online since then (the site currently says its experiencing “technical difficulties) and has not returned to Apple or Google’s app stores.
On Jan. 18, Parler relaunched a static website for desktop devices with four posts with the help of a Russian technology firm called DDos-Guard. (Seven more messages, or Parleys in the site’s vernacular, have been added in subsequent weeks.)
But as of early February, the site still did not function on mobile phones — and remains off of popular app stores from Apple and Google — which removed the app shortly after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.