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Tech SPAC could make ex-president billions with meme-stock frenzy

Sophie Alexander, Tom Maloney and Crystal Kim, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

Donald Trump’s sagging fortune is suddenly poised to get a massive boost from meme-stock mania.

News this week that the former president’s nascent media enterprise, Trump Media & Technology Group, is planning to go public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) has sent retail investors into a frenzy, even with few details released. The stock gain drove the implied value of the new venture to more than $8.2 billion.

Based on figures from press releases and filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission, it appears Trump will own more than 50% of the combined company. At its current value, that would make him the richest he’s ever been, up from his estimated net worth now of $2.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

In the roller-coaster world of Reddit-fueled trading and grandiose SPAC hype, those gains are hardly firm. But the money betting on a Trump media conglomerate marks a sharp turnaround for a post-presidency that hasn’t been kind to the billionaire’s business empire.

His Washington hotel, which was first put on the market in 2019, is still for sale, while the flagship midtown Manhattan tower that bears his name has growing vacancies. This summer, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization was charged with tax fraud. Trump’s net worth has declined by about $500 million since he entered the White House, with the pandemic and fallout from January’s Capitol riot delivering added blows to his business interests.

Now comes the arrival of the social-media outlet that Trump, the leader in polls for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, has been teasing at for some time. There are many reasons to be skeptical of the valuation. It will be months before the new venture publicly releases its first product, a social-media platform called Truth Social. And there are already technical issues. On Thursday, the Truth Social page was hacked to make it appear that Trump shared a photo of a defecating pig.

 

It’s also unclear how Trump plans to build a social-media platform on the scale of Twitter over the next few months, let alone a streaming service, which is the next phase of Trump Media’s plans, according to the press release announcing the company. That statement was light on numbers even by SPAC standards.

“We have no financials. We have no business plan. We don’t know how they got to the valuation. We have no information,” said Kristi Marvin, chief executive of research firm SPAC Insider. “That’s the fundamental problem.”

Representatives for Trump and Trump Media didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The business has ambitious plans that also include a potential “tech stack” to compete with Amazon.com Inc.’s AWS and Google’s Cloud, among others, according to a presentation on Trump Media’s website. As of now, Digital World’s board is light on members with media experience. Its chief executive officer, Patrick Orlando, is a former Deutsche Bank AG derivatives trader who co-founded a sugar-trading company and started a banking firm, Benessere Capital, before more recently embracing SPACs.

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