Kanye West, the superstar rapper who has made several inflammatory and anti-Semitic comments in recent weeks, has agreed in principle to buy the conservative social media platform Parler, the app’s parent company said in a statement on Monday.
“In a world where conservative views are considered controversial, we must ensure that we have the right to freely express ourselves,” West, who now goes by Ye, said in a statement released by Parler.
The financial terms of the deal were not announced. The company previously said it had raised $56 million in funding from outside investors.
Kanye West arrives at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on February 9, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
Evan Agostini | Invision | AP
The move comes after Ye was locked out of his Twitter and Instagram accounts for making anti-Semitic comments. In one post, Ye tapped into a long-running anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that fellow rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs is controlled by the Jews. On Twitter, meanwhile, Ye’s account was restricted after he said he would go “death con 3 on Jewish people.”
A representative for Ye did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Ye told Bloomberg News that he was motivated to buy Parler after Instagram and Twitter punished him. He also declined to disclose the terms of the deal to the store.
Ye’s net worth is reportedly $2 billion. Much of his wealth comes from his Yeezy sneaker brand and partnerships with Slip away and Adidas. But Ye cut ties with Gap recently, and Adidas said it is also reviewing its business relationship with him. JPMorgan Chase also cut ties with the rapper.
Parler is one of several right-wing platforms that have emerged in the Donald Trump era, as supporters of the former president claim unfair treatment by Twitter and other apps. There’s also Gettr, run by former Trump adviser Jason Miller, and Trump’s own app, Truth Social, whose parent company is under federal investigation as it tries to go public. Conservative-friendly video platform Rumble went public last month.
Parler, which originally launched in 2018, was swept up in controversy last year over the role it played in the January 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol building. It led to a host of tech companies, including Google and Amazonto blacklist the service, making its app and website unavailable.
In September, however, Google reintroduced the app to its Play Store, saying the company was changing some of its content moderation and enforcement policies. Apple reinstated the app on its App Store platform earlier, in April 2021.
Parler has sought to reduce its reliance on technology from other companies by establishing its own cloud infrastructure in-house. The company launched a new parent company in September, called Parlement Technologies, which aims to provide its own cloud service for online business. “The future is uninterruptible,” the company said at the time.
Ye and Parler’s parent company expect to complete the deal before the end of the year, the company said. Terms of the deal include technical support for Parler from its parent company, as well as the use of its private cloud services.
Following Ye’s suspension from Instagram, the rapper turned to Twitter, posting for the first time since 2020. “Look at this Mark How you gone kick me off instagram,” he wrote, referring to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Instagram parent Meta.
Elon Musk, a friend of Ye’s, responded, saying, “Welcome back to Twitter, my friend!”
Ye was subsequently locked out of his Twitter account for a violation of its policies, after which Musk tweeted that he had spoken with Ye and “expressed my concern about his recent tweet, which I believe he took to heart.”
Musk is currently pursuing an acquisition of Twitter. That takeover was revived last week after Tesla’s CEO said he would buy the social media platform for the $54.20 per share price they originally agreed upon in April. The billionaire, who calls himself a “free speech absolute,” has said he wants to make Twitter a “digital square” that promotes free speech.
Commenting on the deal on Monday, Parlement Technologies CEO George Farmer said it “will change the world and change the way the world thinks about free speech.”
“You are taking a groundbreaking step into the free media space and will never have to fear being removed from social media again,” Farmer said in a statement. “Ye proves once again that he is one step ahead of the older media narrative. Parliament will be honored to help him achieve his goals.”
Farmer is married to American conservative activist Candace Owens, one of Yes’s social media advocates. He is also the son of Michael Farmer, a British Conservative politician who sits in the upper house of the British Parliament.
George Farmer was named CEO of the conservative-leaning social app last May, after a dispute between its early investor Rebekah Mercer and ex-Parler chief John Matze led to Matze’s ouster. Mercer, the heiress daughter of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, is Parler’s controlling shareholder.