picture alliance/dpa/picture alliance via Getty I
The power struggle that led to conservative social media site Parler abruptly firing its founder and CEO John Matze last month became so acrimonious that when Matze was sacked, he was also involuntarily stripped of his entire stake in the company, according to people familiar with Matze’s exit.
In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Amazon Web Services, which served as Parler’s web host, knocked it offline, saying it did too little to stop the spread of violent messages. Soon after, Matze became locked in a dispute with Rebekah Mercer, the Republican mega-donor and Parler co-founder, over how the platform should address inflammatory content.
The tug-of-war between the two founders came as Parler’s profile was on the rise, with a valuation approaching $1 billion and more than 12 million users, according to legal documents submitted by lawyers for Parler in a suit against Amazon.
Matze has said that he was pushed out after proposing content restrictions, including a clamp down on domestic terrorists and the baseless, pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon. Parler officials dispute Matze’s characterization of his ouster, calling his sequence of events “inaccurate and misleading.”
Matze declined to comment. Mercer did not return multiple requests for comment. Parler did not respond to questions about Matze’s firing.
While ugly battles over an outgoing executive’s severance package aren’t rare, legal experts say a CEO losing all equity upon a sudden ouster is unusual.
“This is not typical. He probably has something to fight about,” said lawyer Michael Stebbins with the Silicon Valley Law Group. “This could have been done under the imprimatur of legitimacy but they may have breached their fiduciary duty.”
Parler is a right-wing-friendly alternative to Twitter founded in 2018 by Matze and Jared Thomson in Henderson, Nevada. Mercer, the daughter of hardline conservative billionaire Robert Mercer, became Parler’s chief financier. The Mercers have also funded Cambridge Analytica and Breitbart.
Go to the news source: Former Parler CEO Matze Stripped Of All Company Shares Upon Firing, Sources Say …