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Photos: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images (left) and John Matze's LinkedIn (right)

John Matze, CEO and co-founder of far-right friendly social media platform Parler, said on LinkedIn Wednesday that he has been terminated.

Why it matters: Parler has been at the center of controversy since Amazon Web Services, Apple and Google unplugged the network last month for its lack of content moderation related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

  • In a memo obtained by Fox News, Matze said that the company's board of directors, controlled by Republican political donor Rebekah Mercer, terminated him last Friday.
  • He did not participate in the decision, and the reason for the firing remains unknown.

What he's saying: "Over the past few months, I’ve met constant resistance to my product vision, my strong belief in free speech and my view of how the Parler site should be managed," Matze wrote. "For example, I advocated for more product stability and what I believe is a more effective approach to content moderation."

  • "I have worked endless hours and fought constant battles to get the Parler site running but at this point, the future of Parler is no longer in my hands."

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva: It will be interesting to see who replaces Matze, and whether this person can achieve whatever the board thinks he failed at — which is no small task, assuming Parler wants to keep its extreme free speech policies.

The big picture: Matze emerged from the Capitol riots as a defender of the institution of free speech. He refused to give in to companies he called "anti-competitive actors."

  • Matze will take a few weeks off before looking for new opportunities, he told Parler colleagues.

Go deeper: Podcast: The fall of Parler

Go deeper

28 mins ago - World

COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming

Recreated from Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

South Africa alerted the world to the Omicron variant. Now data out of South Africa may serve as a warning of what we're facing.

Driving the news: South Africa recorded 11,535 new cases Thursday with 22.4% of tests coming back positive — up from an average of about 300 new cases, with a 2% test positivity rate 10 days earlier. The country's top public health officials expect that exponential rise to continue as Omicron rapidly becomes the dominant variant.

BuzzFeed to go public, after shareholders approve SPAC deal

Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed is set to become publicly traded on Monday, after shareholders of a SPAC called 890 Fifth Avenue Partners voted to approve a previously-announced merger.

Yes, but: The vast majority of the money the SPAC raised in January was yanked, a signal that investors aren't very optimistic about BuzzFeed's future prospects.

Omicron cases confirmed in 4 U.S. states

A healthcare worker inserts a Covid-19 rapid test into a machine in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Five cases of the newly-discovered Omicron variant were detected in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday, making New York the fourth state with confirmed cases.

The latest: In addition to New York, the variant has been confirmed in California, Colorado and Minnesota.