Parler, Once Aiming To Be a Conservative Version of Twitter, To Scale Back Ambitions After Acquisition by Media Conglomerate Starboard

Months after a deal with rapper Kanye West fell through, Parler announces it will shut down temporarily, and refocus on ‘cloud services’ and artificial intelligence.

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, file
Kanye West, now known as Ye, at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on February 9, 2020, at Beverly Hills. Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, file

Months after a deal with rapper Kanye West collapsed, Parler — once billed as a conservative alternative to Twitter — announced Friday that it would be acquired by the digital media conglomerate Starboard and was scaling back its ambitions to offer a political substitute for the right. 

“No reasonable person believes that a Twitter clone just for conservatives is a viable business any more,” Starboard said in a press release Friday.

Parler will temporarily shut down before relaunching what Starboard claims will be a revitalized product. The company’s chief executive told the Sun the firm was planning to shift its focus to “cloud services” and artificial intelligence to help protect online users from regulations in the company’s next phase.

Parler is one of a set of social media companies, like Truth Social, BitChute, and Gab, that has positioned itself as a conservative alternative to mainstream social media platforms.

Yet with the acquisition of Twitter by billionaire Elon Musk and the launch of President Trump’s social media platform, the space for a conservative alternative to Twitter has become crowded.

“Advancements in AI technology,” Starboard’s chief executive, Ryan Coyne, told the Sun via email, “along with the existing code base and other new features, provide an opportunity for Starboard to begin servicing unsupported online communities.”

Starboard plans to build “a home for them away from the ad-hoc regulatory hand of platforms that hate them,” Mr. Coyne said.

“The team at Parler has built an exceptional audience and we look forward to integrating that audience across all of our existing platforms,” Mr. Coyne said in a statement.

He added that “Parler’s large user base and additional strategic assets” offered resources for “Starboard to continue to build aggressively in our media and publishing business.”

The current chief executive of Parler’s parent company, Parlement Technologies, George Farmer, announced that he would be stepping down, with the sale of the company representing the end of his mission at Parlement.

“I can safely leave the business knowing it is on the right course,” Mr. Farmer said.

During his tenure at Parler, “we restructured the entire Company in incredibly challenging market conditions,” Mr. Farmer added. “The future of this business will be far less eventful than its past and that steady state growth and profitability can be managed by a fresh set of hands.”

Last year, Mr. West was closing a deal to purchase Parler following repeated public and antisemitic comments, public praise for Hitler, and a visit to Mar-a-Lago with the vocal antisemite and racist Nick Fuentes. 

Following these events Parler announced that the “ company has mutually agreed with Ye to terminate the intent of sale of Parler” in a statement provided to CNBC.

“This decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November,” Parler said in a statement. “Parler will continue to pursue future opportunities for growth and the evolution of the platform for our vibrant community.”

Starboard, previously known as Olympic Media, was founded in 2018 and “houses conservative-leaning platforms American Wire and BizPac Review,” Reuters says.

Parler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The New York Sun

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