The launch of social media Truth Social has been branded as anti-Twitter and the exclusive home of former President Donald Trump. His options, revealed by the company’s financial backers in public roles, depend on the monetization of the rage of Trump supporters over the alleged censorship of the “Big Tech” political right.
It turned out that without the help of Big Tech, it is difficult to build a social network to tackle big technology. The militant political approach of Trump’s venture has hampered the company’s development since its inception, a Reuters survey of the origins of the mysterious company showed.
Trump Media & amp; Technology Group (TMTG) has been working to develop its social media platform since its inception in February 2021, as its managers sought to avoid potential corporate partners and employees perceived as politically liberal in the left-leaning Silicon Valley industry. said three people with knowledge. its operation.
The feeling is mutual: many engineers and technology companies will not consider working with Trump, say two of these people, two additional sources familiar with the venture, and the investment firm’s role in the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 16. which intends to merge with TMTG, Digital World Acquisition Corp or DWAC. Mutual aversion has severely limited the range of talent and corporate partners available to help TMTG build a competitive social network on an ambitious timeline.
The reluctance of potential employees and partners to work with TMTG is both practical and political: companies fear a link to Trump will cost them customers, and technology workers fear it could hurt their careers, people he spoke to said. Reuters. The company risks facing the same challenge in finding advertising from large companies looking to avoid alienating half or more of their customers in politically polarized America who dislike Trump, two advertising experts say.
This narrative of the company’s early challenges is based on interviews with 16 people with knowledge of its operation, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, and DWAC’s public roles.
The company also faces serious legal and financial challenges. The DWAC revealed Monday that a federal grand jury convened by the New York Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued subpoenas to all of its directors. The DOJ investigation coincides with an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) first unveiled by the investment firm in December. Word of the SEC investigation came weeks after Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts asked the SEC to investigate possible securities breaches related to allegedly undisclosed private merger talks between TMTG and DWAC last year before the DWAC went public.
The SEC declined to comment on its investigation on Monday; the Ministry of Justice did not respond to the request immediately.
DWAC said in a SEC role Monday that investigations could delay the proposed merger, which would also prevent a large cash infusion planned for Trump’s social media company.
In a statement Monday, TMTG said it would work with the SEC to “supervise”, without mentioning an Justice Department investigation, and said it remained “focused on restoring Americans’ right to free expression” and improving the Truth Social app.
Big Tech’s avoidance of businesses has contributed to major problems with the February launch of its app in the Apple Store, leaving hundreds of thousands of users lined up on a waiting list that was cleared only in April. A person familiar with TMTG’s technical operations said the failed start-up was caused by problems with servers, remote computers that provide the power to store and process data to run websites.
The servers, the person said, were provided by two smaller cloud providers with political credentials that matched TMTG: Rumble, a Canadian video-sharing platform that cares for conservatives but is brand new to the server business; and RightForge, an infrastructure company marketed as an advocate of free speech. The companies were selected to replace Amazon Web Services (AWS), a leader in the cloud computing industry that was used early in the project but was quickly abandoned for political reasons, the person said.
AWS was particularly problematic because Amazon.com Inc.’s technology titanium cloud computing unit is angered a number of political right-wingers last year when it shut down services to Parler, a social network popular with conservatives, and said it had not posted police posts promoting violence. In a May 16 application, DWAC named Amazon among the major technology companies TMTG was “set up to fight” because “they are agreeing to limit debate in America and silence voices that run counter to their awakened ideology.” Twitter, Facebook, Netflix and Google were also on the list, with DWAC remaining unnamed among the “others”.
An AWS spokesman declined to comment. Parler did not respond to the inquiry.
The investor relations firm representing TMTG issued a brief statement in response to detailed questions from Reuters sent to representatives of Trump, TMTG and DWAC. A statement from Shannon Devine, a managing partner of the MZ Group, said Reuters’ investigation contained “false and defamatory statements”.
“It also includes misleading claims and omits material facts,” Devine wrote, saying the statement was made on behalf of the TMTG legal department.
Devine did not state what information was incorrect or misleading, and did not respond to a further request for comment.
TMTG was also hampered by a management team with little experience in the technology industry and little interest in learning the operational details of software development, say two people familiar with the company’s operations.
The two people central to founding the company, Wes Moss and Andy Litinsky, are both former co-stars in the reality TV show “The Apprentice,” in which Trump represented before his presidency. Moss is also a managing partner in an Atlanta asset management company. Litinsky previously worked at Trump’s television production house and ran a conservative radio show. He also ran the short-lived startup ConnectPal, a social media site that charged subscribers for access to user profiles before Litinsky disbanded the company in 2018, according to regulatory documentation.
Two people familiar with the company’s operations said Moss and Litinsky essentially ran TMTG in the early days before hiring CEO Devin Nunes, a former Republican U.S. congressman and milk producer. Nunes launched in January, a month before the launch of the Rocky app. He did not respond to a request for comment.
TMTG did not disclose the titles of management positions for Moss and Litinsky. In a May 16 application, Moss was identified as a director, but Reuters was unable to determine his current leadership role or degree of involvement in the company. Moss did not respond to a request for comment.
According to a person familiar with the company, Litinsky left the company “months ago” without giving an exact date or reason for leaving. The resignation of Litinsky, who now works as a media and technology consultant, has not yet been reported.
Members of the TMTG technology team tried to persuade Moss and Litinsky to commit to best practices in software development, such as identifying and prioritizing key user features, shortly after the company was founded, says a person familiar with the company’s operations. The men labeled such proposals as a waste of time, the person said. When technical staff pressured Moss and Litinsky for the company’s vision, they said TMTG should emulate Twitter, the person said, except without content moderation policies that anger some conservatives.
Such an imitation approach would reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of what is needed for a technology industry to survive, said Aaron Ginn, co-founder of the Lincoln Network, an influential conservative group in the technology industry. Like all startups, he said, TMTG needs to innovate to compete in a fierce battle for user attention.
“The question is whether the product has a unique invention or not,” Ginn said. TMTG, he said, needs to create differentiated content that users “can’t get on Twitter”.
TMTG’s business model looks shaky in the light of recent news. Billionaire Elon Musk, who has a contract to buy Twitter, promised in May that he would lift the ban on that platform for Trump. DWAC’s May 16 show later revealed that the platform’s “exclusive” deal with Trump is not so exclusive: it allows him to post political comments “on any social media site at any time,” deepening doubts about his commitment to the company.
A Twitter spokesman declined to comment on the report.
TMTG’s assets are inextricably linked to Trump. The company charges him as the main traffic driver. As chairman, he will control 47% or 58% of the company’s voting power, depending on how preference shares are treated when merged with DWAC, a special purpose takeover company. The merger requires the approval of the Securities and Exchange Commission and is likely to take several months from closure.
“Comically low” app downloads
Some start-up dysfunction is expected in start-ups, but unlike most start-ups, TMTG did not have the luxury of learning on a small stage. Under Trump’s constant spotlight, the company had to build a platform from day one to accommodate large audiences and uneven traffic jumps, without the reliable tools on which most Silicon Valley developers depend.
Platforms such as AWS server systems have become so ubiquitous that many developers are not trained to work on anything else. According to a person familiar with TMTG’s technical operations, this dynamic has exacerbated the already difficult recruitment and development processes.
The technical team has recently started to gain more attention. In late April, Truth Social finally cleared the waiting list for Apple device users and was at the top of the App Store download rankings for about a week. In mid-May, the company released a version of Truth Social for web browsers.
One venture capitalist has called 2.8 million downloads of the Truth Social app since June 1 “comically low” for a high-profile company linked to the former U.S. president.
However, the company has not yet launched an app in the Google Play Store for Android phones, which accounts for about 40% of the U.S. smartphone market. Its user base remains only a small part of its ambitious growth goals. TMTG told investors in November that the site would reach 56 million users by 2024 and 81 million by 2026. By comparison, the 2026 target would be about 35% of the number of daily Twitter users today.
As of June 1, the Truth Social app has been downloaded 2.8 million times, according to data analytics company Sensor Tower. One venture capitalist called the number “comically low” for a high-profile company backed by the former U.S. president. Gene Munster, a managing partner at Minneapolis-based technology investment firm Loup, said he would expect more than 25 million downloads given the huge attention the project has attracted.
“Did the platform not work properly? Aren’t they revealing their message? “He asked.” I’m shocked … it’s low. “
The team that wants to monetize Trump’s social media magnetism has been a revolving cast from politics, technology, reality television and other industries. The company had three different technology leaders in its first year.
The idea for Truth Social began with a duet from the show “Apprentice,” which forced contestants to compete in business challenges for a job in Trump’s real estate empire. In January 2021, Moss and Litinsky introduced Trump on a social network that could restore him unfiltered access to Americans, says a person familiar with setting up the company. Twitter and Facebook just banned Trump after they found out he was promoting or glorifying violence during the Capitol riots earlier this month.
Trump highlighted the idea green, and by June, a small team had set to work, says a person familiar with the company’s operations. Nicholas Warnock, a California insurance salesman, was one of the first members of the team. Warnock had previously spent more than a decade at a digital book company. In 2019, he was sued by his former business partner, who claimed Warnock “escaped” with the money, court documents show. A California judge last year ordered Warnock to pay more than $ 310,000, a decision Warnock appealed.
Warnock did not respond to requests for comment. Reuters was unable to determine his specific role or current employment status at TMTG.
Another early member of the team was Will Russell, a former deputy travel director at Trump’s White House. The chief financial officer was Phillip Juhan, who previously served as chief financial officer at the bankrupt fitness chain operator Town Sports International, according to a May DWAC report. Chief Technology Officer Jay Dalke, a veteran of the Atlanta technical industry, was among the few early employees with significant experience in the technology industry.
Truth Social began hiring technological talent last summer. According to a person familiar with the company’s operations, the executives tried to find ideologically coordinated staff, scanning candidates ’social networks in at least one case and listening to their appearances on podcasts. But the company has struggled to get skilled tech workers, regardless of their policies, claim three people who knew the recruitment efforts.
According to them, there was a shortage of those who had a priority conservative policy of the company or at least committed to the said mission of freedom of speech. And technology workers with liberal or moderate policies usually didn’t want to have anything to do with Trump. One person contacted by TMTG told Reuters that the offer was easy to turn down. In addition to disgust with Trump’s policies, the person expressed concern about the former president’s history of business failures – the DWAC file lists six Trump entities that have filed for bankruptcy – and about the TMTG funding arrangements.
At least two people who have never worked for TMTG were listed in an investor presentation in November 2021 as a member of its technology team, according to two people who are aware of the matter. A previous presentation in March 2021 named John Horton, the founder of the startup who served in the administration of Republican President George W. Bush, as one of the “key figures” in the Trump Media Group responsible for technology, security and payment processing. Horton told Reuters he was not involved in Truth Social.
Some of the employees who applied hid their work at TMTG and avoided any mention of their new jobs on their social media, according to a Reuters review of workers ’biographies. Some feared the consequences for their careers, says a person familiar with the company’s operations. The identities of two key TMTG executives – chief product officer Billy Boozer and another of the company’s three chief technology officers, Josh Adams – were not made public until Reuters exclusively reported in April that they had resigned after a brief and tumultuous term.
Boozer and Adams did not respond to requests for comment.
The development team worked at the WeWork co-working space in Atlanta. TMTG’s staff was small and heavily dependent on outsourcers, according to two sources familiar with the company’s operations. Reuters was unable to determine the scope of the entire operation, but TMTG had about 40 full-time employees as of March 31, according to the DWAC regulatory documentation of May 16.
The start-up company had just as much trouble finding vendors as it did hiring staff, according to the application and the three people who know the company’s business. Several potential partners, the application said, were reluctant to work with TMTG because of “the company’s connection to President Trump.”
Two sources familiar with TMTG’s business said several companies withdrew from the deals after reconsidering the options for customer or customer response. Some potential partners feared becoming targets of hackers, says another person familiar with the company’s business. Because of these fears, an early, unpublished version of the app was hacked in October by hackers who created parody accounts, including a fake “donaldjtrump” account with a photo of a pig exterminating.
Fastly, a content delivery network provider, told Reuters it had rejected a request to provide services to Truth Social. The company, which provides a system that provides fast and reliable online access, said someone signed up online in September with a personal email address and “ended up trying to configure a service with a resnicosocial domain in our system.” The company said it closed the account for violating the terms of service, but declined to comment on the specific violation.
As TMTG publicly blew up Big Tech, it sought out ideologically aligned companies like Rumble. On December 14, TMTG announced that it had entered into a contract with a Canadian company for “large-scale cloud technology and services,” which will include video and streaming for Truth Social. Rumble has worked with TMTG for months in a role that has been internally described as a key strategic partnership but is not clearly defined for staff, according to two people familiar with TMTG operations.
TMTG’s connections with Rumble were both political and personal. Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski was a friend of Moss, says a person familiar with the company. Rumble has been backed by big investors on the political right, including PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Trump Media Nunes CEO was present on the platform, and a lawyer who previously worked under Nunes on the Congressional Intelligence Committee became Rumble’s attorney general in November. Thiel did not respond to a request for comment.
TMTG wanted to use Rumble as a cloud provider, but Rumble was unable to take over the work immediately because it was still developing its cloud service offering, says a person familiar with TMTG’s technical operations. This forced TMTG to temporarily use AWS, despite concerns about hiring big player Big Tech. By October, TMTG had abandoned AWS and added RightForge, a company that labels itself as a free speech advocate, as a major server provider, while Rumble increased its cloud offering.
By then, work at Truth Social was so delayed that his technical team had to work brutally long hours to do so, says a person familiar with TMTG’s technical operations. The company’s original chief technology officer, Jay Dalke, resigned the same month, being replaced by Adams.
Adams and CEO Boozer would lead the fight to meet the deadline to launch the company on President’s Day, Feb. 21. Both were Southern tech entrepreneurs and conservatives with a passion for the Truth Social free speech mission, say two people who knew TMTG operations. .
“None of these guys slept for weeks, weeks and weeks,” one of those people said of Adams ’technology team.
Adams and Boozer beat the deadline by one day, but the app lacked key features like instant messaging, and most of the users trying to download it were redirected to a waiting list.
Problems with the server caused chaos, a real source familiar with the technical operations of the application. Rumble started its cloud service just before the app launched, and some of its technologies failed when the site went live, the person said. The installation of Rumble servers in addition to the RightForge cloud infrastructure has also caused problems in ensuring that both systems work together with the same application, the source said.
Director General Rumble Pavlovski did not answer detailed questions from Reuters about his cooperation with TMTG. A Rumble spokesman denied in a statement that the company’s servers had technical problems when the TMTG app was launched. The statement said Rumble cloud services were “ready” in 2021 without a date.
As CF Acquisition Corp. VI On June 17, a blank check company published by Rumble, Rumble said that its “first cloud service offering revolves around a small number of customer relationships,” including working with TMTG, and that “the infrastructure service offering is currently still in early development. “
A spokesman for RightForge did not respond to a request for comment.
Adams and Boozer resigned shortly after the app’s difficult debut. Adams was replaced by another Southern technology entrepreneur, William “B.J.” Lawson, a physician who had previously set up a health technology startup and twice unsuccessfully ran for Congress in North Carolina.
Big money drives to Truth Social. TMTG will receive $ 293 million in cash from DWAC and has raised approximately $ 1 billion in additional funding from private equity investors (PIPE). Money from both deals will not be available until the DWAC merger is completed. Meanwhile, the site is expected to generate revenue only in 2023, according to a DWAC report dated May 16, which states that the company had a net loss of $ 60 million in 2021.
Despite Trump’s financial interest in Truth Social, the former president did not post on the platform more than two months after the difficult presentation of the Apple app, raising questions about his commitment to the company. Earlier, in October, as TMTG competed to produce the product, Trump discussed a financial deal to join Gettr, a competing conservative social media network run by former Trump spokesman Jason Miller. DWAC said in a May regulatory report that it found out about flirting with Gettr from a podcast with Miller.
The former president has posted regularly to Truth Social since early May, sometimes several times a day. But the May 16 DWAC report showed how little control TMTG has over Trump’s social media activities. Trump is obligated to give Truth Social a six-hour exclusive for any post – except the posts that are most relevant to TMTG’s business. Trump can post “political messages, political fundraising, or election campaign efforts” on any website at any time, the application said.
The agreement poses a “big problem” for the company, said Munster, a venture capitalist. “It’s a problem because Trump is going to go where the audience is,” he said.
The company’s only defense against the former president’s promiscuous announcement, he said, is that Trump could benefit financially if Truth Social succeeds. But the “political messages” clause is a signal of Trump’s lack of TMTG commitment, Munster said.
Truth Social has rapidly increased its user base by eavesdropping on hard Trump fans angry at his deplatform, but will find it difficult to take conservative conversation from established platforms, said Ethan Zuckerman, an associate professor of public policy and communications at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
“Truth Social would really like to be in a place where we should be at Truth Social if you were interested in what the right in America thinks,” he said. “It hasn’t happened yet.”
The company’s revenue challenge reflects those it faces in its business: the group of advertisers for Trump’s company will be as limited as the group of workers and corporate partners. The site is likely to receive ads like MyPillow, a regular Fox News advertiser run by prominent Trump supporter Mike Lindell, who told Reuters he would “absolutely” advertise on Truth Social. This could also attract companies that care for conservatives, such as gun manufacturers, said Allen Adamson, a veteran of the advertising industry who is a co-founder of Metaforce, a marketing consulting firm.
“But these are not big advertisers. The big advertisers are beer, chips and diapers companies, ”which risk driving customers away by connecting with Trump, he said. “They have to be relevant in red and blue.”
The head of TMTG Nunes has privately expressed concern about this dynamic, as he worries that the company’s revenue will quickly reach the ceiling without such wise advertisers, says a person aware of the matter.
The May 16 application states that research would show that only 30% of respondents – and only 60% of Republicans – would consider using a Trump-linked social media platform. “To be successful,” the application said, “tMTG will need millions of these people to register and use the TMTG platform on a regular basis.”
Video production: Lucy Ha and Emma Jehle
Edited by: Kenneth Li, Jason Szep and Brian Thevenot
How do I invest in DWAC?
How to buy DWAC
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- Find DWAC in the proxy application or on the website. …
- Buy stock.
What does DWAC Stock mean? DWAC stands for Deposit / Withdrawal At Custodian, created by The Depository Trust Company (“DTC”). The DTC-managed DTC FAST system allows intermediaries and custodian banks participating in the DTC to electronically request the transfer of shares to or from the issuer’s transfer agent.
Can I buy stock in DWAC?
(DWAC) is an ETF listed on the NASDAQ, which means you can buy shares from most brokers.
Is DWAC a hold or sell?
The Digital World Acquisition Corp share contains selling signals from short-term and long-term moving averages, giving a more negative outlook for the stock. Read also : Download or skip: ‘Chloe’ in Prime Video, where a woman takes on a new person when another crazy woman dies.. There is also a general sales signal from the ratio between the two signals, where the long-term average is above the short-term average.
What is the forecast for DWAC stock?
Digital World Acquisition Corp – The Class A offer is June 1, 2022 equal to $ 43,660. According to our forecasts, a long-term increase is expected, the forecast of the “DWAC” share price for May 26, 2027 is USD 72. See the article : NBCUniversal, Google’s leading campaigner to partner with Netflix for its ad support program – WSJ.801. With a 5-year investment, the return is expected to be around 66.75%.
Which stock is Truth Social?
Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp., a specialty trading company that is buying the company for Donald Trump’s Truth Social, jumped in after-hours trading on Thursday after Trump posted a message on the platform for the first time in months.
Is DWAC Truth social? Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC), a specialty trading company that said it intends to merge with former President Donald Trump’s social media side Truth Social, fell more than four percent on the open market as the social media company faces mistakes and resigns from the older …
How much money is Truth Social worth?
In fact, according to our math, it has already increased its net worth by $ 430 million, which has helped raise its wealth from $ 2.4 billion a year ago to $ 3 billion today.
Can you buy stock in Truth Social?
You cannot buy shares directly in Truth Social; however, you can buy shares from Digital World Acquisition Group (NASDAQ: DWAC) due to a merger with Trump Media & Technology.
Can u invest in Truth Social?
As of March 2022, it is not possible to buy Truth Social shares because the company is not publicly listed – and therefore does not trade on the stock exchange.
Is Truth Social in the Google Play Store? Since the Android app is still not available, not much has changed since the introduction of Truth Social on the iPhone. However, there is a solution. The Truth Social app is still not available for download on Android devices, although it is expected to arrive at some point in the near future.
Is Truth Social app available on Android?
Many people may say that leaders at Google and YouTube resented Trump, but there is a more immediate reason that there is no Truth Social app for Android users, who make up about 40 percent of the U.S. mobile market.
Who owns Truth Social?
|Type of place||Social networking service|
|Established||October 20, 2021 (8 months and 7 days ago)|
|Serviced area||United States · Canada|
|The owner||Trump Media & Technology Group|
|Founder (s)||Donald Trump|
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