Former Parler CEO John Matze says he was against a deal that gave former President Donald Trump partial ownership of the social media firm in exchange for making the site his exclusive platform, disclosing in a new interview that he believes Trump “might have bullied people inside the company.”
What are the details?
Matze, who was terminated by Parler’s board of directors last week, sat down with “Axios on HBO” and confirmed to the outlet that Parler and Trump representatives discussed a potential agreement to serve both parties — but Matze was against it.
Buzzfeed News first reported Friday that Parler was in talks with Trump associates before he left office regarding a proposal that would have granted the Trump Organization “a 40% stake in the company” if Trump would “make Parler his primary social network.”
“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. “But I was worried that if we didn’t sign the deal, he might have been vengeful and told his followers to leave Parler.”
Buzzfeed reported that the deal was never finalized, but legal experts said the discussions alone, which occurred while Trump was still in office, raise legal concerns.
According to the outlet:
During a subsequent phone interview, Matze told Axios the Mar-a-Lago meeting was set up by Jeffrey Wernick, an early Parler investor and its eventual chief operating officer. He says it lasted a few hours and that he didn’t sleep over at the private club in Florida where Trump now lives.
Matze adds he doesn’t know if the first offer was made by Wernick or by Trump campaign officials.
What’s the background?
Parler has been almost entirely de-platformed after major tech firms Apple and Google pulled the app from cellphones last month and Amazon then refused to provide server hosting for the social networking firm over accusations that the company was not doing enough to moderate content in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Parler became a safe haven for conservative voices since it launched in 2018, by marketing itself as a free speech alternative to censor-loving networks Twitter and Facebook.
The company’s future is not clear, and Matze’s position as chief executive was a casualty as the company works to find a hosting service willing to make it widely available online once again.
Matze told Fox Business he is still not entirely sure why he was let go as CEO from the company he founded.