Parler has received major backing from Rebekah Mercer, daughter of hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
What Happened: John Matze, Parler’s founder, confirmed Rebekah Mercer is the lead investor, according to WSJ. The Mercers are known for funding conservative initiatives and the campaigns of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Parler was launched in 2018 by Matze, a self-described libertarian. He said he launched it as a “bipartisan platform,” but he’s been marketing it to more conservative communities recently, Reuters reports, with an emphasis on free speech.
The platform was the most downloaded app on Apple and Android devices last week, reaching 10 million users.
Thanks to the platform's policies, it has attracted more conservative users, such as talk-show host Alex Jones, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, commentator Candace Owens and right-wing activist Laura Loomer, who was banned by Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR). It also has attracted the extremist group The Proud Boys, after they were banned by Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).
Why It Matters: Parler has been attracting more conservative users after Twitter and Facebook introduced stricter policies on political content.
The company says it does not use content-recommendation algorithms, contrary to other tech platforms, and provides content in chronological order. Parler also says it does not collect users' data.
Parler executives said they were “committed to their libertarian principles,” although the company's provisions allow the algorithms to be changed in the future, according to WSJ.
Jeffrey Wernick, COO of Parler, said, “We’re choosing to be a neutral platform. ... We think that, long term, doing the right thing will pay off."