Mar 2, 2022 - Economy

Trump's Truth Social bomb

A phone with a shattered screen with the word Truth on in

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Former President Trump is blowing the launch of his new social media company, via a series of unforced errors.

Why it matters: The SPAC that agreed to take Truth Social public is valued at over $3.5 billion. At some point, investors will begin paying attention.

The big picture: Truth Social spent much of February in private beta with invited users, saying its public unveil would be Feb. 21 (President's Day, natch).

  • The launch itself was buzzy, with Truth Social shooting to the top of Apple's App Store (there isn't yet an Android or web version).
  • But the vast majority of people downloading the app, me included, were given a waitlist number. Nine days later, most of us remain on that waitlist, with our number unchanged and without a word of communication from the company. A waitlist "refresh" icon doesn't work.
  • As of this writing, Truth Social has fallen to No. 57 in the App Store, just behind Tinder and Planet Fitness Workouts.

Trump's role: The former president is Truth Social's founder and chairman, so he obviously bears some responsibility for putting together the team that's so far fallen on its face. But, most importantly, he's not using the app.

  • Trump hasn't posted a single time since the launch, despite an international crisis that has captivated the country. Instead, he's given his comments to radio and TV hosts — including one this morning with Dominion conspiracy theorist Maria Bartiromo — plus via his CPAC speech.
  • Had he limited, or at least prioritized, his reactions to Truth Social, it would have caused every media outlet to mention the app. Same would have applied to last night's State of the Union address.

This is beginning to remind me a bit of Trump's 2013 foray into crowdfunding, via a site called FundAnything. At launch, Trump said that each week he'd contribute to new FundAnything campaigns and then promote those selections via his (then active) Twitter account. But he soon lost interest, and the site eventually folded.

  • The difference between Truth Social and FundAnything, however, are those publicly traded SPAC securities.
  • And none of this even begins to address the ongoing investigation into the SPAC by federal securities regulators, or that the SPAC won't identify the investors behind $1 billion in contingent PIPE financing. Or that the SPAC sponsor's only other merger effort was a failure.

The bottom line: The SPAC's investment thesis seems to be that a large percentage of Trump's 88 million Twitter followers will migrate over to Truth Social. But nearly two weeks after launch, his dormant account has fewer than 80,000 followers. And Trump himself is largely to blame.

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