(NEW YORK) — Parler, a social media platform popular among conservatives, will temporarily shut down after being acquired by the hedge fund Starboard, the company said on Friday.
The acquisition comes months after the failure of a bid for the app’s parent company, Parlement Technologies, undertaken by Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.
Starboard pulled down the app as part of a “strategic assessment” but plans to relaunch the platform, the company said in a statement.
“No reasonable person believes that a Twitter clone just for conservatives is a viable business any more,” Starboard said.
“We at Starboard see tremendous opportunities across multiple sectors to continue to serve marginalized or even outright censored communities,” the company added.
New York-based Starboard, founded in 2018, did not disclose how much it paid to acquire Parlement Technologies.
In the middle of last year, Parler counted 700,000 monthly average users compared with 2.8 million on rival rightwing platform Truth Social, according to data from the firm Data.ai, which was analyzed by the New York Times.
Starboard also owns right-leaning sites American Wire and BizPac Review.
“Parler’s large user base and additional strategic assets represent an enormous opportunity for Starboard to continue to build aggressively in our media and publishing business,” Ryan Coyne, CEO of Starboard, said in a statement.
“The team at Parler has built an exceptional audience and we look forward to integrating that audience across all of our existing platforms,” he added.
Parler was removed from iPhone and Android app stores after the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The platform was later reinstated to those app stores.
Launched five years ago, Parler characterized itself as a platform where a user could “speak freely and express yourself openly without fear of being ‘deplatformed’ for your views,” according to the homepage on its previous website.
Parler is among a host of alternative content platforms — including Truth Social, Rumble and Gab — considered to have less stringent content moderation policies than apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Parler is the most well-known of those alternative platforms, according to a Pew Research survey conducted last May.
Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults said they had heard of Parler, as opposed to 27% of adults familiar with Truth Social and 20% who knew of Rumble, the study showed.
The acquisition of Parler arrives amid tumult in the social media landscape.
Facebook-parent Meta, which has laid off more than 20,000 workers since the fall, has suffered declines in its revenue and stock price.
Meanwhile, Twitter has slashed roughly 75% of its workforce and overhauled its subscription offering since entrepreneur Elon Musk completed a $44 billion deal for the service in October.
China-based TikTok, which boasts more than 150 million U.S. users, faces bipartisan calls on Capitol Hill for a ban.
In the press announcement on Friday, Starboard referred to Parler as “the world’s pioneering uncancelable free speech platform.”
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