Over the past few weeks, many employees and executives at Parlement Technologies, the business behind the “censorship-free” social networking platform Parler, have been let go.
As one of the earliest conservative alternatives to established platforms, Parler’s survival has been called into question by the unexpected purging of its personnel.
Several people with knowledge of the situation say that layoffs at Parlement Technologies started in late November. There were layoffs at Parler and the parent company’s cloud services venture until at least the end of December, when almost 75% of employees were let go.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, most of the company’s leaders have been let go, including the chief technology, operations, and marketing officers.
Candace Owens’ conservative influencer spouse George Farmer is the current CEO of Parlement Technologies, which owns Parler. Farmer replaced John Matze as the company’s chief executive officer in May 2021, not long after Parler was reinstated to app stores. Matze claimed he was fired in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published in February 2021 because he wanted to change the platform’s moderation guidelines.
An external PR professional who used to work on Parler’s account indicated that she is no longer affiliated with the company when asked for comment. Repeated efforts for comment from Parlement Technologies went unanswered.
The 2018 launch of Parler coincided with former president Donald Trump’s most vocal attacks on social media for purported bias against conservative users. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, the site claimed to have anti-censorship moderation standards and advertised itself as a “free speech” alternative to both services.
Throughout the 2020 presidential election season, the app’s popularity skyrocketed, reaching a peak of over 7,000 new users per minute in November. However, after the violent incident on January 6th at the US Capitol, the app was removed from both Apple and Google’s app stores due to accusations that it was used to organise the violence. Because of these restrictions, the app could not attract new users.
After being banned from Apple’s store for four months, Parler eventually returned after the company presented a new set of moderation guidelines. By that time, however, rumours had spread that Trump was planning to unveil his social media platform. Several competitors, including Gettr and Rumble, had entered the “censorship-free” social media market.
Despite the emergence of other services, Parler’s user growth slowed to a trickle. Leveraging its history of shutdowns, the company announced in September last year that it would launch a new venture, Parlement Technologies, to house its social platform and a new “uncancelable” cloud services business. With their new $16 million investment, Parlement Technologies acquired the cloud infrastructure from California-based startup Dynascale.
Parlement Technologies hoped to unload Parler onto an unsuspecting bidder shortly after the acquisition. As of October 2022, according to one potential acquirer who spoke with The Verge, the site had only about 50,000 DAUs. On October 17th, Parlement Technologies announced that it had reached an agreement to be acquired by Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. Ye’s Instagram and Twitter accounts were suspended after he posted threatening and antisemitic material, prompting the statement.
Ye has recently caused a commotion by, among other things, praising Hitler on Infowars, a programme hosted by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and donning a “White Lives Matter” shirt while attending Paris Fashion Week with Owens. Due to Ye’s appearance on Infowars, Parlement Technologies indicated they would no longer be pursuing a takeover.
Parlement Technologies, Inc. has verified that it has agreed with Ye to terminate the purpose of the sale of Parler, according to a statement released by the company last month. “This decision was made in the interest of both parties mid-November.”
The future of the Parler social networking platform and the number of people employed are both shrouded in mystery. As of this writing, there is only one job opening listed on the company’s website: data centre manager in Los Angeles.