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.

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