Fired Parler CEO John Matze has claimed he was sacked for trying to ban QAnon
Fired Parler CEO John Matze has claimed he was sacked for trying to ban QAnon conspiracy theories from the site, as investor Dan Bongino slams him as a liar in a bitter fall-out at the struggling social media app.
Investors including Bongino and conservative mega-donor Rebekah Mercer fired Matze from the app he co-founded on Friday, and this week the ousted CEO took the dispute public.
Matze claimed in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday that he’d pushed Mercer to have Parler do more to restrict domestic terrorists, white supremacists and supporters of QAnon.
‘I got dead silence as a response, and I took that dead silence as disagreement,’ he claimed of his pleas to Mercer.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, Bongino slammed Matze’s comments about his firing as ‘inaccurate and misleading.’
Bongino, a conservative podcast host and commentator, said that Matze had ‘difficulty reconciling guidelines enforcement on the one hand, and free expression on the other.’
‘We intend to demonstrate that there is no conflict between these, because the free exchange of ideas requires the exclusion of (threats of) violence,’ he added.
The executive shake-up is the latest woe to befall Parler, which remains effectively offline after Amazon Web Services last month revoked server support over ‘egregious content’ on the app after the U.S. Capitol riot.
Parler investor Dan Bongino responded in a video press conference livestreamed on Facebook on Wednesday night, blasting Matze as untruthful
As well, Apple removed the app from its store, following a similar move from Google, making Parler effectively unavailable on smartphones.
In a leaked memo, Matze squarely blamed Mercer for his firing, writing: ‘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.’
Bongino responded in a video livestreamed on Facebook on Wednesday night, blasting Matze as untruthful.
‘I’m really pissed off right now,’ Bongino said. ‘The relationship with Parler and the CEO did not work out because the CEO’s vision was not ours. Everybody clear on that? Our vision was crystal clear.’
‘This site was going to be a free speech platform or it was going to be nothing,’ Bongino said. ‘The vision of the company as a free speech platform was mine and the two other owners, and we were resolutely committed to that.’
‘We could have been up in a week, if we had just bent the knee and followed all the ridiculous Apple edicts to become a heavy-moderation site to the left of Twitter,’ he said.
Parler remains effectively offline after Amazon Web Services last month revoked server support over ‘egregious content’ on the app after the US Capitol riot
‘We don’t want garbage on our site either and we took the proper steps to do that, but we were a free speech site,’ he added.
Bongino also insisted that he and the other owners had repeatedly warned Matze about product stability. ‘Wait until the real story comes out,’ he said. ‘Is he really sure he wants to get into this?’
On his livestream, Bongino hinted that ‘terrible decisions’ were made under Matze’s leadership that led to the site being taken offline, without offering further details.
‘We needed to get up and fight back, some terrible decisions were made in the past, that led us to getting put down by Amazon and others,’ he said.
Parler was founded in 2018 by Mercer, John Matze and his college friend Jared Thomson.
‘Parler is more than a social media platform; it is a beacon in today’s fight for free speech and open, productive dialogue,’ Bongino told DailyMail.com.
‘We are continuing to move forward with our relaunch and look forward to welcoming everyone back very soon,’ he added.
In a memo Matze sent out to staff this week, first obtained by Fox News, he pointedly said that the decision was made by a board ‘controlled by Rebekah Mercer’.
Matze blamed Rebekah Mercer (above), the billionaire Parler investor, for his firing
The former CEO said he had been met with ‘constant resistance’ to his ‘belief in free speech’ and vision for Parler after Amazon Web Services shut down the site for ‘egregious content’ related to the Capitol riots.
On Friday, the Parler board decided to to terminate Matze, he wrote in his memo.
Who is Rebekah Mercer?
Rebekah Mercer, 47, is a prominent conservative donor and activist.
Based in New York, she was briefly a stock trader and was married to a high-ranking Morgan Stanley executive.
She is now listed as ‘retired’ or ‘homemaker’ on financial declarations.
Others give her a different title: the ‘First Lady of the Alt-Right.’
Her father, Robert, is the co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies hedge fund and is estimated by Bloomberg to be worth at least $1 billion.
The Mercers for years donated to the Koch brothers’ political network, but started to act alone after the Republicans’ failure to unseat president Barack Obama reportedly led Rebekah to say the Koch network was full of ‘fools.’
They initially backed Ted Cruz, pushing him to take a harder line on immigration during the presidential primaries, before switching their allegiance to Trump.
Publicity shy, their money, according to a December 2017 report in Quartz, is spent on Breitbart, Cambridge Analytica, a machine gun company and a horse farm in Florida.
‘I did not participate in this decision,’ Matze wrote.
‘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 wrote.
‘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.
Mercer, whom Matze blamed for his firing, is the daughter of Robert Mercer, a hedge fund manager and the co-founder of the now-defunct political data-analysis firm Cambridge Analytica.
In November she revealed that she had been financing the new app.
‘John and I started Parler to provide a neutral platform for free speech, as our founders intended, and also to create a social media environment that would protect data privacy,’ she said.
‘The ever increasing tyranny and hubris of our tech overlords demands that someone lead the fight against data mining, and for the protection of free speech online.
‘That someone is Parler, a beacon to all who value their liberty, free speech, and personal privacy.’
The app rocketed into the spotlight after conservatives flocked to the site, when they were forced from Twitter. Before it went offline, according to Parler, the service had about 15 million total users.
John Matze’s memo to staff
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.