John Matze says he's been fired as CEO of Parler, which was among the social media services used to plan the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
Matze's announcement Wednesday followed Amazon's Jan. 11 decision to remove Parler from its web-hosting service over its unwillingness to remove posts that called for the killing, rape and torture of politicians, tech executives and others. Google and Apple removed Parler's app from their online stores.
Matze, in a post on the professional networking site LinkedIn, thanked Parler employees. "This is not a goodbye. Just a so long for now," he wrote.
His LinkedIn page shows an employment termination date of January 2021:
John Matze LinedIn profile as of February 4, 2021.LILNKEDIN
Matze linked to a report by Fox Business quoting a memo from him to employees that said he was fired Jan. 29 by the Parler board controlled by conservative donor Rebekah Mercer.
"The Parler board controlled by Rebekah Mercer decided to immediately terminate my position as CEO of Parler," the memo said. "I did not participate in this decision."
He was quoted as saying in the memo that, "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."
But in a Facebook video confirming Matze's ouster, Parler co-founder Dan Bongino disputes Matze's account and describes infighting at Parler's upper levels.
Referring to Matze's assertions that he was a strong advocate of free speech and product stability, Bongino said, "That's not accurate. ... We were the ones in fact fighting to get Parler back up. There were some really bad decisions made by people on the inside. And listen, this isn't us airing dirty laundry. This is protecting a company that is absolutely committed to free speech. ... There were two separate visions for the company. ... This free speech vision? That was ours -- the other owners of the company."
" ... The relationship with Parler and the CEO did not work out because the CEO's vision was not ours. ... Our vision was crystal clear. We needed to get up and fight back. Some terrible decisions were made in the past that lead ... us to getting pulled down by Amazon and others. It was ... me and the two other owners that were constantly on the side of this site was gonna be a free speech platform or it was gonna be nothing."
" ... We could have been (back) up in a week if we just would have bent the knee and followed all the ridiculous Apple edicts to become a heavy moderation site to the left of Twitter. That's not what we're gonna do. ... We were a free speech site and will remain as such and that's why it's taken so long to get back up."
A federal judge on Jan. 22 rejected Parler's request to order Amazon to restore web service. District Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle said she wasn't dismissing Parler's claims against Amazon.
Matze, who co-founded Parler in 2018, said in a court filing that Parler's abrupt shutdown was motivated at least partly by "a desire to deny President Trump a platform on any large social-media service."
Parler experienced a surge in users after Twitter banned Mr. Trump amid pressure to curb incendiary speech following the Jan. 6 attack that resulted in five deaths. Mr. Trump also was banned by Facebook and Instagram.
Mr. Trump contemplated joining Parler under a pseudonym, Matze said.
He told the court Parler has "no tolerance for inciting violence or lawbreaking" and has relied on volunteer "jurors" to flag problem posts and vote on whether they should be removed.
Amazon said the suspension was a "last resort" to block Parler from harboring violent plans to disrupt the presidential transition.