Former Parler CEO John Matze launched a GoFundMe page to crowdfund his legal fees

Parler CEO John Matze
Parler CEO John Matze

  • Parler’s former CEO is looking to crowdfund his legal fees.
  • John Matze’s time at Parler came to an end earlier this year.
  • He says he was forced out by the board, including the conservative mega-donor Rebekah Mercer.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The former CEO of Parler, John Matze, announced Thursday that he had launched a GoFundMe page to support legal fees “associated with [his] departure from Parler.”

“I also am likely heading into a Congressional investigation into Parler, and it is uncertain whether Parler will indemnify me for the inevitable costs of defending this investigation,” Matze wrote on the GoFundMe page. The right-wing social media app is embroiled in a Congressional investigation following the January attacks on the US Capitol.

Matze said he will use the funds to cover legal fees related to the Congressional inquiry, security costs, travel expenses associated with any hearings, and “repayment for any legal fees associated with defense and prosecution of ongoing litigation and negotiations.”

Matze’s fundraising page has a $150,000 goal, and had raised over $3,000 as of Thursday afternoon.

Parler CEO John Matze GoFundMe page

Matze’s departure from Parler was acrimonious. He said that he was fired out by the company’s board, namely mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, Insider reported.

In March, Insider reported that Matze was suing Parler over his departure and accusing the company of taking his 40% ownership stake. Insider reported that the lawsuit claimed Matze was ousted after he said the platform should have more stringent content-moderation policies.

Parler was removed from the Apple and Google app stores in January following reports that some of its users had organized the attacks on the Capitol on the platform, which is often used by far-right and right-wing members. After the app stores removed Parler, Amazon Web Services also stopped providing hosting services, forcing the platform offline.

Insider also reported that after Amazon Web Services took the site offline, a new host took over and the site is back up, though the app is still unavailable on the Google and Apple app stores.

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Former Parler CEO John Matze has sued the social-media site and conservative megadonor Rebekah Mercer, accusing them of wrongly ousting him and taking his 40% stake

John Matze, Rebekah Mercer
The lawsuit by John Matze (left) alleges that Rebekah Mercer (right) was responsible for his wrongful ousting from Parler in January.

  • Former CEO John Matze sued Parler Monday, accusing it of “theft” of his 40% ownership stake.
  • The lawsuit claimed that the company wrongly ousted him after he proposed stricter content moderation.
  • Board head Rebekah Mercer used the platform to advance her own political interests, the lawsuit said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Parler has been sued by its former CEO John Matze.

Matze claimed in the lawsuit,, filed Monday in Nevada, that he was wrongly ousted in January after he proposed stricter content-moderation rules for the social-media site, which is popular with the far-right.

The suit also claimed that conservative megadonor Rebekah Mercer, who heads Parler’s board, and other senior staff conspired to take Matze’s 40% stake in the company and used the platform to advance her own political interests.

Mercer, who already owned a 60% stake in the site, “sought to co-opt [Parler] as a symbol or as the ‘tip of the spear’ for her brand of conservatism, and plotted to force Matze out,” the suit said.

Matze is seeking “millions” in compensatory damages.

The Las Vegas Sun first reported on the news.

Insider contacted Parler for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

Parler, which became a haven for far-right activity because of its lax stance on moderating content, came under fire during the January Capitol riots, when users cheered on the protestors or called for more violence. After the siege, Parler was booted offline by its previous web host Amazon Web Services, and shunned by other tech giants, including Apple and Google.

AWS said that the site “poses a very real risk to public safety” and refused to remove content that incited violence. Parler denied this.

Read more: Facebook says it removed more than 1.3 billion fake accounts in the months surrounding the 2020 election

The new filing claimed Matze proposed new content-moderation policies that would have banned posts that incited violence while still supporting free speech. His ideas were shunned by Parler’s board, who instead wanted to use the site for their own political interests, the suit said.

“Matze’s proposal was met with dead silence, which he took to be a rejection of his proposal,” the suit said.

The lawsuit claimed that Matze was then “abruptly ousted in violation of the law and public policy.”

According to the suit, Jeffrey Wernick, the company’s chief operating officer, contacted Matze on January 28 and “threatened him with financial ruin” and an “avalanche of legal claims” if he did not immediately resign.

This was at the “clear and apparent direction of Mercer,” the suit said.

After Matze refused to resign, he was fired “without reason,” the lawsuit said.

Matze claims Parler stole his 40% stake

The lawsuit also accused the defendants of the “orchestrated theft” of Matze’s 40% stake in Parler.

The lawsuit said Mercer had told Matze that Parler should be valued at “at least” $1 billion, and that she knew Matze’s stake was worth “multi-million dollars.”

But the defendants told Matze after he was ousted that his 40% stake was only worth $3, the suit claimed.

Parler’s operating agreement allowed the forced sale and purchase of Matze’s stake, according to the suit. The suit said that the defendants shared out the 40% stake among themselves after Matze was fired – it didn’t specifically say how much Matze was paid.

“This scheme is epitomized by oppression, fraud and malice, for which Matze is entitled to punitive damages trebling (at a minimum) the millions that he is owed in compensatory damages,” the suit said.

The suit names Parler, Mercer, Wernick, interim CEO Mark Meckler, and right-wing personality Dan Bongino, who is accused of fabricating misconduct claims against Matze, as defendants.

Earlier this month, Parler filed a new lawsuit against Amazon, alleging that the tech giant had breached its contract with Parler when it took the site offline. The site is now back online with web host SkySilk.

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Ex-Parler CEO said he didn’t want the platform to work with Trump for fear the president would ‘bully’ employees into doing what he wanted

Matze Trump Parler
Parler CEO John Matze and President Donald Trump, who Matze has said considered making an account on the controversial social-media platform.

  • John Matze, the former CEO of Parler, told Axios on HBO that he did not want to work with Trump.
  • He said we was concerned Trump would “bully” employees into doing what he wanted.
  • BuzzFeed reported Parler offered Trump a 40% stake in exchange for becoming his go-to social media.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

John Matze, the former CEO of Parler, said during an interview with Axios on HBO that he didn’t want the social media platform to work with Donald Trump.

“I didn’t like the idea of working with Trump because he might have bullied people inside the company to do what he wanted,” Matze told Axios during an interview that aired Sunday.

“But I was worried that if we didn’t sign the deal, he might have been vengeful and told his followers to leave Parler,” Matze added.

Parler, which has very limited content moderation, grew in popularity among Trump supporters and far-right figures following the election in November. However, Trump, who frequently complained about Twitter adding fact-check labels to his tweets, never made a verified Parler account.

Read more: How Google finally decided to remove Parler after months of flagging the app’s harmful content

Matze also told Axios he does not know why Trump has not joined the platform, despite being booted off other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook for violating their terms.

The interview, which took place Thursday, was released following a BuzzFeed News report on Friday that said Parler offered the Trump Organization 40% stake in exchange for Trump making the app his go-to social media platform.

The proposed deal, which was reportedly in talks last summer and after Trump lost the election, also would have required Trump to post on Parler four hours before reposting the content on other platforms, while also linking back to Parler, according to BuzzFeed.

Matze did not mention the specifics of the BuzzFeed report in the interview with Axios but said the negotiations over the summer did not get very far.

Trump’s business interests during his presidency raised questions over whether he was abusing the office of the presidency for personal financial gain.

BuzzFeed reported that the Parler deal could have violated anti-bribery laws because Parler would have given Trump something of value in exchange for control over his official statements, according to ethics experts.

Parler’s board fired Matze from his role as CEO last week, as the app currently remains offline. Following the insurrection at the US Capitol last month, Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores, and Amazon also stopped hosting the app, citing insufficient moderation of violent content.

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Parler offered Trump’s company 40% ownership of the app to make it his go-to social media platform

Matze Trump Parler
Parler ex-CEO John Matze and former President Donald Trump.

  • The Trump Organization held failed talks with Parler to become a part-owner, BuzzFeed News reported.
  • Parler offered a 40% stake in exchange for Trump making the app his go-to social media platform.
  • The talks could have violated anti-bribery laws, ethics experts told BuzzFeed.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Parler and the Trump Organization, negotiating on behalf of then-President Donald Trump, held talks that would have given Trump’s company a major stake in Parler in exchange for the president making it his go-to social media platform, BuzzFeed News reported Friday.

After former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale raised the idea to Trump last year, Parscale and Alex Cannon, a lawyer for the campaign, got together with Parler’s then-CEO John Matze as well as investors Dan Bongino and Jeffrey Wernick, according to BuzzFeed.

Parler offered Trump’s company a 40% stake, doled out over two years – and in exchange, it wanted to require Trump to post on Parler four hours before reposting his content on other platforms (while also always linking back to Parler), BuzzFeed reported.

According to its report, the talks between Parler and the Trump Organization began last summer and were revisted after Trump lost the election to Joe Biden, but ultimately failed – and it wasn’t clear how involved Trump was in the negotiations.

Parler, the Trump Organization, and Trump’s personal office did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more: 10 huge hits to Trump’s business from the pandemic that may be permanent

Trump’s sprawling business empire – and his refusal to distance himself from it while president – raised broad concerns about whether he was abusing the office to enrich himself.

During the first two years of his presidency, Trump earned $73 million in foreign deals. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also set up a shell company to secretly pay Trump family members as much as $617 million.

Ethics experts told BuzzFeed News that a deal with Parler would have violated anti-bribery laws because Trump would have received something of value in exchange for Parler getting a say over where Trump made his official statements.

Parler quickly gained popularity among Trump supporters and far-right figures in November following the election due to its lax approach to moderating content, though Trump never made a verified account there.

Read more: Parler has been knocked offline for not moderating threats. Screenshots show what Capitol riot supporters posted before, during, and after the unrest.

But following the Capitol attacks, which rioters planned in large part on Parler, the company faced swift backlash over that approach. Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores, and Amazon cut off web-hosting services to Parler, forcing the platform offline. The companies said Parler had repeatedly refused to remove violent content or adjust its moderation approach to be in line with their policies.

Matze said this week that he was fired by Parler’s board and major investor Rebekah Mercer, a far-right donor that was particularly influential during Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Parler CEO John Matze says he’s been fired by the company’s Rebekah Mercer-controlled board

Parler CEO John Matze
Parler CEO John Matze.

  • Parler CEO John Matze said he was fired by the company’s board, Fox Business reported Wednesday.
  • The app was recently taken offline after Amazon, Google, and Apple booted it from their platforms.
  • It came under scrutiny in the wake of the Capitol riot for allowing violent speech.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Parler CEO John Matze told employees the company’s board of directors fired him last week, Fox Business reported 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 told employees in a memo, according to Fox, adding: “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, a social-media app popular among the far-right, is funded by Rebekah Mercer, a conservative megadonor whose family was among the most influential backers of then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016.

The company came under scrutiny after the Capitol insurrection as evidence emerged that the rioters had used Parler and other platforms to coordinate the attack.

Under public pressure, Apple and Google removed Parler from their app stores, saying it had continued to allow content that threatened to escalate violence in violation of their policies. Shortly afterward, Amazon removed Parler’s access to its web-hosting services, and other tech companies refused to do business with it, effectively taking the platform offline.

Read more: Inside the rapid and mysterious rise of Parler, the ‘free speech’ Twitter alternative, which created a platform for conservatives by burning the Silicon Valley script

Matze entered the media spotlight amid the industry’s response, repeatedly defending the company’s lax approach to content moderation and saying it would be back online by the end of January.

It has since sought to return using fringe service providers such as a Russian tech company with links to racist, far-right, and conspiracy-theory sites.

Far-right and conservative users flocked to Parler in the past few months in protest of other social-media apps that began cracking down harder on election misinformation, hate speech, and attempts to incite violence. The app was downloaded millions of times in the days after the November election, jumping to the top spot in the App Store.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Parler’s CEO fled his home and went into hiding after receiving death threats and security breaches, a court filing says

Parler CEO John Matze
Parler CEO John Matze

  • Parler CEO John Matze Jr. and his family have fled their homes after receiving death threats, a new court filing says. 
  • Parler was recently removed from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and Amazon Web Services stopped hosting the platform after it deemed Parler a “risk to public safety.”
  • Trump supporters flocked to the platform after the president was banned from Twitter following the siege at the Capitol on January 6. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Parler CEO John Matze Jr. fled his home receiving death threats, a lawyer for Matze said in a court filing on Friday. 

The attorney, David Groesbeck, wrote in the document that Matze had to “go into hiding with his family after receiving death threats and invasive personal security breaches.” The filing was part of  Parler’s antitrust lawsuit against Amazon Web Services to put the platform back online.

The current filing aimed to seal parts of the suit filed as a safety measure. 

Amazon Web Services stopped hosting Parler after it said the platform had violent content that was tied to the January 6 siege at the US Capitol. In its own court filing last week, Amazon alleged that Parler was both unwilling and unable to remove “content that threatens the public safety, such as by inciting and planning the rape, torture, and assassination of named public officials and private citizens.”

Supporters of President Donald Trump breached the building and clashed with law enforcement, halting the joint session of Congress as lawmakers were debating challenges to electoral votes.

Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer and a woman who was shot by law-enforcement officials while participating in the riot.

Trump’s Twitter account was subsequently suspended and conservatives urged their followers to join Parler afterward. The app jumped to No. 1 on Apple’s App Store before the company pulled it. Google also yanked Parler from its store.

AWS said Parler “poses a very real risk to public safety,” when it stopped hosting it. 

In the Friday court filing, Groesbeck didn’t specify who was threatening Matze, but said his position “as the CEO of the company AWS continues to vilify,” put him in danger. 

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Amazon said Parler users were threatening their staff. 

“Both sides of this dispute have shown that their employees have suffered real harassment and threats-including, on both sides, death threats-owing to the charged nature of this litigation,” Groesbeck said in his filing. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Parler’s CEO John Matze responded angrily after Jack Dorsey endorsed Apple’s removal of the social network favored by conservatives

jack dorsey
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

  • The CEOs of Twitter and Parler were at odds with each other Saturday, each posting on their own network about Apple’s decision to ban Parler. 
  • Twitter’s Jack Dorsey posted a heart emoji above a screenshot of the App Store’s top download chart, where Parler had been before the ban. 
  • “Yeah, we were number one until the fake news rage mob at Twitter and your anti-competitive friends went after us,” Parler’s John Matze said.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The chief executives Parler and Twitter were at odds with each other on Saturday, as each posted on their own network about Apple’s ban of Parler.

After Apple banned Parler for failing to remove content promoting violence, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted a picture of the Top Charts on the App Store. Before the ban, Parler had been the most downloaded app. By Saturday night, it was gone.

Dorsey added a heart emoji. 

On Parler, CEO John Matze responded by posting a screenshot of Dorsey’s tweet and adding his own comment.

“Yeah, we were number one until the fake news rage mob at Twitter and your anti-competitive friends went after us,” Matze wrote. He added: “That’s real cute.”

Parler CEO John Matze
Parler CEO John Matze.

Parler, which has become home to a growing number of conservative and alt-right voices, was banned from the app stores run by both Apple and Google. Both companies said the app didn’t do enough to moderate incendiary talk. “No change without bloodshed!” a Parler user wrote as the mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.

Google banned it late Friday, with Matze saying it was a “horrible way to handle this.”

Apple followed with its own ban on Saturday, after giving the app a day to update its moderation efforts. “Parler has not taken adequate measures to address the proliferation of these threats to people’s safety,” Apple reportedly said

Read more: Parler should be taken seriously as a hotbed of extremism and conspiracy theories, a new study shows

Earlier on Saturday, Matze had posted about Apple’s ban, saying Apple wanted him to put in place “surveillance” policies.

“They claim it is due to violence on the platform. The community disagrees as we hit number 1 on their store today,” he wrote. He noted that “Hang Mike Pence” had become a trending topic on Twitter, before the network halted it. 

“Displaying the horrible double standard Apple and their big tech pack apply to the community,” Matze said. 

On Parler, prominent users said banning it was a form of censorship. 

“Apple and Google have now removed the Parler App. Welcome to political censorship! Spread the word so your fellow Americans know about this,” wrote Rep. Devin Nunes late on Saturday night. 

Rep. Ken Buck wrote that Congress needed to take action against Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple. “Big Tech has abused its monopolistic power and has engaged in censorship,” he wrote. 

President Donald Trump’s son Eric Trump on Saturday posted a picture of himself with the caption: “The MAGA movement is going nowhere. [President Trump] has created the greatest political movement in American history.”

Like Twitter, Parler users can also sign into the network on the web. But Amazon is reportedly removing the company from its Amazon Web Services. The platform may go offline Sunday night, unless it can find an alternative hosting platform, said Matze. It might be offline for a week.

Matze said on Saturday the tech firms were working together to shut down Parler. 

“We are the closest thing to competition Facebook or Twitter has seen in many years. I believe Amazon, Google, Apple worked together to try and ensure they don’t have competition,” he said.

 

 

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