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 fire following the Capitol attacks as evidence emerged that the rioters had used Parler and other platforms too coordinate the attacks.
Under public pressure, Apple and Google removed Parler from their app stores, saying that it had continued to allow content that threatened to escalate violence in violation of their policies. Shortly after, 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.
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 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 following the November election, jumping to the top spot in the App Store.