Webhosting company Epik—which isn’t publicly traded—is under scrutiny these days, now that the controversial social network Parler has registered its web domain with the company.
Parler, a favorite among conservative and far-right users, had been booted from Amazon Web Services and Apple's and Google’s app stores amid allegations that the organizers behind the deadly Capitol riots planned the attack on Parler.
What is Epik?
Founded in 2009, Epik is a web hosting and domain registrar based in Sammamish, Wash. VICE News has called it a “safe haven for far-right websites” and a “web host savior” for the far-right after the company started hosting the movement's websites that other hosts had dropped. In 2019, Epik founder Rob Monster told VICE News that the company “allows lawful free speech” and that it welcomed “all views, without bias or preference.”
What sites does Epik host?
A 2019 Southern Poverty Law Center (or SPLC) post reported that Epik was “cornering the market on websites where hate speech is thriving”—first by picking up Gab after the social network was deplatformed for associations with the 2018 domestic terror attack in Pittsburgh, and then by picking up BitChute, which the SPLC called “a low-rent YouTube clone that carries an array of hate-fueled material.”
Is Epik hosting Parler?
A WHOIS search reveals that the Parler website’s domain is currently registered to Epik, but a spokesperson for Epik told CNN Business that the company does not provide web hosting for Parler. In a Jan. 11 statement, Epik said it had “no contact or discussions with Parler in any form regarding [Epik] becoming their registrar or hosting provider.” But Parler elected to move its domain name to Epik that same day, as the latter shared in a Jan. 14 update.
“For the record, there is generally no involvement of consent for this basic action,” Epik said in the Jan. 14 post. “Anyone can set up an account. Millions of domains are registered and transferred every month, and generally speaking, the registrar has no oversight or active participation with the names that go in and out every day.”
Who is Rob Monster?
According to his official bio, Robert W. Monster is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Epik and the managing director of Monster Venture Partners LLC. The Dutch-American businessman is also the author of the book Market Research in the Internet Age. Before his time at Epik, Monster was a global product development manager with Procter & Gamble and the founder, chairman, and CEO of Global Market Insite, Inc. He won a 2005 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in technology and software.
Monster denies having sympathies for white nationalism, according to the SPLC, but he once called former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke an “articulate” and “pretty clever” person who “knows history,” according to Newsweek.
Is Epik publicly traded?
According to Crunchbase, Epik Holdings Inc. is not publicly traded. It’s a private company with 51 to 100 employees, the site reports.