Free speech social network Parler’s board has terminated CEO John Matze, according to a memo Matze sent to the company’s employees.
In the memo, which was obtained by Fox News, Matze wrote that the “Parler board controlled by Rebekah Mercer” had fired him on January 29 and that he “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,” Matze added.
Matze stated that over the past few months, he’s “met constant resistance” over his vision for Parler and his belief in free speech:
“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.”
Matze also discussed his plans to take a few weeks off before “looking for new opportunities where my technical acumen, vision and the causes I am passionate about will be required and respected.”
He 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.”
During his time as Parler CEO, Matze had consistently advocated for free speech, criticized Big Tech’s censorship practices, and said that Facebook and Twitter “insult our founding fathers by suggesting Zuckerberg and Dorsey know what is best for us.”
Parler has been offline since January 10 after Amazon booted the social network from its web hosting services. Apple and Google also deplatformed Parler days before Amazon pulled the plug.
At the time, Matze accused the tech giants of working together to make sure Parler lost its apps and its servers and described the deplatformings as an attempt to “destroy the entire company.”
Over the last few months, Parler has faced constant and sustained pressure from the media, political, and tech establishment.
Before it was deplatformed, numerous mainstream media outlets and several politicians called for Big Tech companies to take action against Parler. And after it went offline, Democrats demanded an investigation into Parler.
Despite facing this mass pressure, Parler was expected to return before the start of February. However, a Parler insider told Fox News that these plans were delayed because of new branding and changes that were being made within the company “for the sake of stability.”
Update – February 3, 2020: Parler investor Dan Bongino responded to the firing of Matze and disputed the claims in the memo.
“Let me be crystal clear on this,” Bongino said. “He 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.”
Bongino added “the vision of the company as a free speech platform was mine and the two other owners” and said that he and the two owners had warned Matze about product stability.
“The relationship with Parler and the CEO did not work out because the CEO’s vision was not ours,” Bongino said. “Some terrible decision were made in the past that led to this, that led us to getting put down by Amazon and others.”