The ex-CEO of social media company Parler has outlined why he was reluctant to go into business with former president Donald Trump.
John Matze, who was terminated by the Parler board this month, suggested Trump may have bullied staff members if he was given a foothold in the company. And if a deal was rejected by Parler, Trump could have told his followers to abandon the site.
“I didn’t like the idea of working with Trump because he might have bullied people inside the company to do what he wanted. But I was worried that if we didn’t sign the deal, he might have been vengeful and told his followers to leave Parler,” Matze, who founded the social network in 2018, said in an interview with “Axios on HBO.“
Before being pulled offline in January amid content moderation disputes with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Apple and Google, Parler was popular among conservatives and Trump supporters, and speculation was growing that Trump would sign-up.
BuzzFeed News reported on February 5 that members of Trump’s campaign had held discussions with Parler about Trump joining the platform in exchange for an ownership stake in the company. Documents suggested Parler had offered 40 percent.
Matze, alongside Parler shareholders Dan Bongino and Jeffrey Wernick, had met with Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale and campaign lawyer Alex Cannon at the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida in June 2020, BuzzFeed reported.
The negotiations, which reportedly took place before and after the presidential election last year, were never finalized. The president’s level of involvement was unclear. Parler and Donald Trump’s PR teams were contacted for comment by Newsweek.
Matze told Axios on HBO that the deal with the president’s campaign team did not go beyond unsigned and non-binding term sheets. Matze said the meeting had been set up by Wernick, the site’s chief operating officer (COO), and lasted a few hours.
Matze said he did not know if the initial offer had been made by Wernick or the Trump campaign and noted no-one “in the White House” was involved in the discussions.
Matze speculated the president may have created a “pseudonym account”—meaning not an official profile—as Fox News host Sean Hannity said he was on the site.
He said an Amazon representative repeatedly asked him if Hannity‘s claim was true and theorized AWS pulling the site was possibly motivated by Trump’s potential move.
Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com/former-parler-ceo-john-matze-donald-trump-bully-staff-vengeful-axios-interview-1567470 on .