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 opinions are seen as controversial, we need to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves,” West, who now goes by Ye, said in a statement published by Parler.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The company previously said it had raised $56 million in funding from outside investors.
The move comes after Ye was locked out of his Twitter and Instagram accounts for making anti-Semitic remarks. In one post, Ye played into the long-standing anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that fellow rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs is controlled by Jews. Meanwhile, Yeh’s Twitter account was restricted after he said he was going to start a “death con 3 on Jewish People.”
A representative for Ye did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ye’s net worth is reported to be $2 billion. Much of his wealth comes from his Yeezy sneaker brand and partnerships with it gap and Adidas. However, Ye severed business ties with Gap recently, and Adidas said it was also reviewing its business relationship with him. JPMorgan Chase also cut ties with the rapper.
Parler is one of several right-wing-friendly platforms that have emerged during the Donald Trump era, as supporters of the former president argue that Twitter and other apps are being treated unfairly. There’s also Gettr, which is run by former Trump adviser Jason Miller, and Trump’s own app, Truth Social, whose parent company is under federal investigation as it seeks 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 Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the Capitol building. This has led to numerous tech companies including Google and Amazonto blacklist the service, making its app and website unavailable.
In September, however, Google restored the app to its Play Store, saying the company had changed some of its content moderation and enforcement policies. Apple restored the app to its App Store platform earlier in April 2021.
Parler is looking to reduce its reliance on technology from other firms by creating its own internal cloud infrastructure. The company created a new parent company in September called Parlement Technologies, aimed at providing its own cloud service for online businesses. “The future is irreversible,” the company said at the time.
Ye and Parler’s parent company expect to finalize the deal before the end of the year, the company said. Terms of the deal include technical support for Parler from the parent company, as well as the use of its private cloud services.
Following Ye’s suspension from Instagram, the rapper took to Twitter, posting for the first time since 2020. “Look at this Mark, how you kicked me off Instagram,” he wrote, referring to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Instagram’s parent Meta .
Ye’s friend Elon Musk responded by saying, “Welcome back to Twitter my friend!”
Yeh was then banned from his Twitter account for violating its rules, after which Musk tweeted that he had spoken with Yeh and “expressed his concern about his recent tweet, which I think he took to heart.”
Musk is currently pursuing an acquisition of Twitter. That takeover resumed last week after Tesla’s CEO said he would buy the social media platform at the $54.20 per share price they initially agreed to in April. The billionaire, who calls himself a “free speech absolutist,” said he wants to turn Twitter into a “digital town square” that promotes free expression.
Commenting on the deal on Monday, Parlement Technologies chief executive George Farmer said it would “change the world and change the way the world thinks about free speech”.
“Ye is making a groundbreaking move in the free speech media space and will never again fear being removed from social media,” Farmer said in a statement. “Once again, Ye proves that he is one step ahead of the legacy media narrative. Parliament will be honored to help him achieve his goals.”
Farmer is married to American conservative activist Candace Owens, one of Yeh’s advocates on social media. He is also the son of Michael Farmer, a British Conservative politician who sits in the upper house of the UK Parliament.
George Farmer was appointed CEO of the conservative-leaning social app last May, after a dispute between its early investor Rebecca Mercer and former Parler boss John Matze led to Matze’s ouster. Mercer, the heiress daughter of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, is Parler’s controlling shareholder.