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Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Wednesday announced plans to launch a social media network called "Truth Social," and said that it would go public via a SPAC.

Why it matters: Most ex-presidents are focused on their legacies, by creating presidential libraries or engaging in philanthropic endeavors. Trump, however, remains consumed by social media.

Between the lines: Details, such as who will be company CEO, are scarce.

  • The SPAC is led by Patrick Orlando, who has raised several SPACs but has yet to successfully use one to take a company public. He did have one deal signed, with a company called Giga Energy, but it was called off before being consummated.
  • Trump's team initially told Axios that the SPAC had yet to file an 8-K detailing merger details. Such paperwork is necessary for any deal to proceed. A spokesperson for the SPAC later confirmed that it has been filed, apparently after hours, which means it should become available early Thursday morning on the SEC.gov website.
  • The SPAC has $293 million in assets, but that amount could be reduced if investors dislike the deal and choose to redeem their units.

Details: The holding company for the app is called Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG).

  • It plans to launch a subscription streaming service called TMTG+. This is the one area in which there is an exec named: Scott St. John, former executive producer of both “Deal or No Deal’ and “America’s Got Talent."
  • A 22-page pitch deck looks very familiar, and in at least one case identical, to a pitch-deck Axios reported on earlier this year.

Of note: The group says its mission is "to create a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the 'Big Tech' companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America."

  • Social media censorship has become one of his biggest talking points, even before mainstream social apps banned Trump following the Capital insurrection.
  • The company says that Truth Social plans to begin its beta launch for invited guests in November and that a nationwide rollout is expected in the first quarter of 2022. 

Be smart: Don't pay attention to the potential $1.7 billion valuation listed in the press release. That figure is based on unspecified price increases to a stock that hasn't even successfully listed yet.

The big picture: Trump has been trying to build an alternative social media network for many months.

  • In July, Jason Miller, a former aide and close adviser to Trump launched a new social app called “Gettr." It launched without Trump's participation after the two parties couldn't come to a deal.
  • “Congratulations to President Trump for re-entering the social media fray!" Miller said in a statement. "Now Facebook and Twitter will lose even more market share."
  • In March, Axios reported that Trump's team had been in contact with FreeSpace, a small and nascent social app to build its own social network. It's unclear what happened to those talks.

Bottom line: There are not enough details to suggest that this deal has much legitimacy.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from the SPAC spokesperson.

Go deeper

Right wing builds its own echo chamber

Expand chart
Data: Apptopia; Table: Axios Visuals

Conservatives are aggressively building their own apps, phones, cryptocurrencies and publishing houses in an attempt to circumvent what they see as an increasingly liberal internet and media ecosystem.

Why it matters: Many of these efforts couldn't exist without the backing of major corporate figures and billionaires who are eager to push back against things like "censorship" and "cancel culture."

GOP Rep. Devin Nunes to retire, will be CEO of Trump media org

Rep. Devin Nunes. Photo: Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who serves as the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, will retire at the end of the year and become CEO of Trump's new media organization.

Why it matters: Nunes, once considered a moderate member of the party, became one of the fiercest defenders of former President Donald Trump throughout both of Trump's impeachments and the Intel committee's Russia investigation.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.