HENDERSON (KTNV) — Drama continues for the conservative social media platform Parler.
A lawsuit has been filed by the co-founder and former chief executive officer John Matze. He claims that other members of the leadership team stole his 40% stake in the company and owes him millions of dollars.
The lawsuit claims that Matze, who served as CEO from Parler’s creation until January 2021, was “abruptly ousted in violation of the law and public policy for endeavoring to preserve Parler’s commitment to free expression while combatting any misuse by violent extremists and domestic terrorists in the wake of the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.”
According to the lawsuit, Matze lost his job after quarreling with Rebekah Merce, who is the conservative megadonor who bankrolled Parler.
The lawsuit claims that Mercer sought to co-opt the company as a symbol or as the “tip of the spear” for her brand of conservatism.
The lawsuit also names Jeffrey Wernick (Parler’s chief operating officer), Mark Meckler (interim CEO) and Dan Bongino (right-wing personality) as defendants.
It was reported earlier that Matze had been fired after the riot in the U.S. Capitol.
Amazon Web Services ended its relationship with Parler and Apple and Google removed it from their App Store after the riot and backlash.
A Capitol Hill lawmaker also asked the director of the FBI to investigate whether the Henderson-based Parler helped extremists plan and carry out the deadly attack in Washington, D.C.
The lawsuit reveals details about how Parler came into existence and where the money came from.
According to the lawsuit, Matze and his college roommate founded Parler as an alternative to Twitter.
Initially, Mercer used a holding company named NDMASCENDANT LLC. to keep her investment a secret. The money that she lent to start Parler was characterized as a loan that would have to be paid back eventually.
The lawsuit says that Mercer then persuaded a friend to invest and valued the company at a discounted $200 million. Matze claims the company is or was worth at least $1 billion.
Jeffrey Wernick became involved in the company in the fall of 2019 and invested money in the form of a “convertible debt agreement.” It was supposedly his idea to bring in Bongino.
The lawsuit also claims that Matze found a way to keep the social media platform alive and wanted to ban QAnon and neo-Nazi posts. However, his proposal was met with “dead silence.” Instead, he was strong-armed out of the company and told that the “fair market value” of his portion of the company was determined to be worth only $3.
Matze is asking for temporary and permanent injunctive relief, compensatory and special damages, punitive damages, and prejudgement and post-judgment interest.