Last week, digital media company Starboard announced the acquisition of conservative social media platform Parler. The platform is considered by many to be a free speech alternative to Twitter. Shortly after the acquisition, Starboard – formerly Olympic Media – shut down Parler for a “strategic assessment.” The company posted a press release about the acquisition in the platform’s place. Terms of this deal have not been disclosed by Parler’s parent company Parlement Technologies or Starboard. Starboard said the deal should be accretive by the end of the second quarter of this year.
“No reasonable person believes that a Twitter clone just for conservatives is a viable business anymore,” the company said in an April 14, 2023 news release.
“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. The team at Parler has built an exceptional audience and we look forward to integrating that audience across all of our existing platforms,” said Ryan Coyne, Starboard CEO.
“We at Starboard see tremendous opportunities across multiple sectors to continue to serve marginalized or even outright censored communities – even extending beyond domestic politics,” the company said. “Advancements in AI technology, along with the existing code base and other new features, provide an opportunity for Starboard to begin servicing unsupported online communities – building a home for them away from the ad-hoc regulatory hand of platforms that hate them.”
Last fall, Parlement Technologies had an agreement with Kanye West to buy the social media platform, now known as Ye, after he was suspended from Twitter. The deal was terminated when West was called out for anti-Semitic comments and major brands like Adidas AG and Gap Inc. dropped him as a brand influencer. At the time, Parlement Technologies said it would pursue future growth opportunities and the next iteration of the Parler platform.
The deal with West was not the only controversy Parler faced, however, reports The Wall Street Journal. The platform was allegedly used to help people organize the January 6 insurrection. For a time, Apple and Google removed Parler from their app stores and Amazon stopped providing Parler with web hosting services. As of yesterday, we were not able to find Parler in either app store. If it is still available, it is not available by a simple search for the app, or perhaps it was removed by the app stores when Parler was taken down last week.
Some compare Parler to Truth Social, the social media platform developed for former president Donald Trump. Though the company has not disclosed user or subscriber stats, as of yesterday Truth Social had more than 500,000 downloads from Google Play and 114,000 from the App Store. Truth Social is also available through the Samsung Galaxy Store but the number of downloads is not listed.
What will Parler’s fate be? Starboard wants to retain Parler’s audience, but it isn’t clear what for. Started by Coyne in 2018, Starboard is a digital media conglomerate that owns businesses that deal with digital advertising, fundraising, publishing and consumer brands. A social media platform doesn’t seem to be in Starboard’s wheelhouse, and the company said it doesn’t want a Twitter clone. Also, Parler has been looking for a buyer since at least last fall, so it seems the owners wanted out. Will Parler be revamped and reemerge as a different type of social media platform, or will it drop into obscurity along with other Twitter alternatives that don’t make the cut?