Ousted Parler CEO sues company, alleges stake was taken

The suit, which was announced in a news release by Matzes attorneys and uploaded online by the Las Vegas Sun, names Parler, Mercer, interim CEO Mark Meckler and investors Jeffrey Wernick and Dan Bongino as defendants, as well as a corporation believed to be controlled by Mercer.

In the complaint, Matze alleges that Mercer and others plotted to steal Matzes 40 percent stake in the company, later saying the fair market value for his stake was worth only $3. The outlandish and arrogant theft is the product of a conspiratorial agreement, the suit says.

Mercer, who backed Donald Trump during his successful 2016 presidential bid, owns the controlling stake in the company, and has now installed her allies to run Parler, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss private matters.

Parler executives, including Meckler and Wernick, did not respond to requests for comment. Mercer and Bongino did not respond to requests for comment. Law firm Pisanelli Bice said in a statement that Matze would not have any further comment.

Matze says in the suit that Parler is being hijacked away from being the free expression site he first imagined. The suit alleges that Mercer sought to co-opt Parler to encourage her political views.

It became apparent to Matze that Mecklers efforts were not to grow Parler as a free expression platform, but instead to redirect it into what Meckler called as the tip of the conservative spear for a brand of conservatism in keeping with Mercers preferences, the lawsuit alleges.

Parler grew from a niche social media site to a relatively mainstream option in 2020 when prominent conservative politicians and pundits began joining and promoting the site, many saying they were fed up with so-called censorship on Twitter and Facebook. Twitter had started labeling Trumps tweets with fact checks, and Parler positioned itself as the free-speech alternative site.

After the election, Parlers user base boomed to more than 10 million, bolstered by people seeking alternative social media sites as Trump and his allies spread false narratives about the veracity of the election.

Parler had about 15 million users before it was knocked offline in January, following reports that people had used the site to encourage the attack on the Capitol. Amazon, Apple and Google pulled their technical support for Parler, saying it was not moderating content robustly enough, effectively turning off the lights for the service.

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post).

Parler came back online more than a month later with a new cloud computing provider, Los Angeles-based SkySilk. In his suit, Matze claims he was the one who secured the new hosting provider and set up a version of the moderating system Parler is now using.

However, as Meckler lacked the technical know-how to actually run such a social media platform and his real role was to simply push a political agenda the implementation was beyond lacking, according to the suit.

Matze is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

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