Trump's Broken Social Media Venture Is Valued At Billions Of Dollars And Its Breaking Experts' Brains

from the the-nftification-of-stocks dept

Last week we wrote a bit about Trump’s new planned social media website, Truth Social (which forbids too many capital letters, so I will oblige by not capitalizing the entire “Truth” part of the name, as Trump’s branding apparently prefers). We mostly focused on the ridiculous terms of service (forbidding capital letters among other things), and the fact that it was already kicking people off the system (who only got on the system because Trump’s coders apparently failed to properly secure the site pre-launch). We also talked briefly about how it appeared to be a reskin of Mastodon, and that’s potentially an interesting legal issue, because it certainly appears to be violating the AGPLv3 license for Mastodon.

But, perhaps a more interesting story right now… is how the grift behind all of this is combining the whole Gamestonk craze and the NFT craze… and the SPAC craze to make absolutely no sense at all.

We had mentioned in passing in the original post that Trump’s new company — Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) — was formed via a reverse merger using a SPAC. Such deals have become a popular sort of backdoor way to take a private company public, though, they’re usually combined with some additional private investment (known as a PIPE — a Private Investment in Public Equity) in order to afford the “takeover” of the private company that is becoming public. SPACs aren’t new — hell we wrote about Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak creating a SPAC back in 2006. But in the last few years, they’ve been all the rage.

But, Trump’s SPAC deal is raising some eyebrows — or frying some brains. My favorite analysis is the one done by the always excellent Matt Levine at Bloomberg where you can basically hear him tearing his hair out at the absurdity of it all and gradually watch as he comes to terms with the fact that nothing at all matters and it’s all nonsense. As Levine notes, the real grift here is that it doesn’t matter one bit if Trump has a good business plan for Truth Social or TMTG, because he’s going to walk away with tons of cash just from the stock deal.

The point is that if you launch a company with the goal of making it profitable, you have to, like, have a workable business plan and execute on it and deal with a million different operational complexities. If you launch a company with the goal of selling a lot of stock, you have to get people to trust you and give you their money. There is some overlap between those things! But they are different things!

As Levine explains, this whole thing, is kinda like an NFT of Trump. It’s a way for Trump fans to throw money at Trump to be part of the Trump brand.

But I think that a more realistic valuation method here is not to worry about cash flows at all ? as Trump SPAC clearly does not ? and treat the stock simply as a token of public interest in Donald Trump. My guess is that the price of Trump SPAC stock will not, for instance, be much affected by its earnings announcements, unless Trump himself does the earnings calls in which case it will go up no matter what he says. My guess is that the stock will not be particularly correlated with the stocks of other media or technology companies. My guess is that the stock will go up when Trump is on television, or if he announces that he?s running for president again. My guess is that if something bad happens to Trump ? if he?s sued or arrested or banned by a new tech company or some new scandal comes out ? then that will also make the stock go up, to own the libs or whatever. My guess is that each day that goes by without Trump news, the stock will go down a bit. My guess is that the stock is essentially a bet on Trump?s personal newsiness, on Trump-news volatility.

To be clear I have absolutely no corporate finance basis for these guesses; I don?t think that, like, getting sued for attacking protesters will be good for Trump Thing?s ad revenue or whatever. I don?t have some story of ?public interest in Trump increases the expected value of Trump Thing’s cash flows so the stock will go up.? I just think that the stock price will have nothing to do with the ad revenue; it will be based entirely on how much attention Trump?s fans are paying to Trump.

And, of course, since Levine wrote that, we’ve already seen more evidence that this was true. Indeed, as Levine mentioned in his piece, it wouldn’t necessarily just be Trumpists buying into DWAC, the stock for the new TMTG, it would also be those assuming that Trumpists would drive the stock up. It didn’t take long for WallStreetBets, the Reddit community responsible for the original GameStonks situation to go all in on the stock.

Alex Wilhelm at TechCrunch sums it all up best:

None of this makes sense. Even by the standards of 2021 and the SPAC era, this is all very stupid.

Even Matt Levine seems to be about ready to give everything up:

Doesn?t it feel like there has been a paradigm shift, a regime change? Doesn?t it feel like for the last 80 or so years there has been a dominant view of investing, a first-page-of-the-textbook given, that investments are worth the present value of their expected future cash flows? Doesn?t it feel like that world has ended and a new one has begun? I should go buy some Dogecoin.

It is a silly feeding frenzy, and someone will get left holding the bag. It’s unlikely to be Donald Trump, of course. It doesn’t appear he’s put any of his own money behind any of this. No one really believes that Truth Social or TMTG is a “unicorn” worth billions of dollars. But there’s a lot of people chasing the greater fool right now, and it’s kind of amusing to watch from the sidelines — though it won’t be surprising when the whole thing comes crashing down.

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Companies: dwac, tmtg, truth social

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Comments on “Trump's Broken Social Media Venture Is Valued At Billions Of Dollars And Its Breaking Experts' Brains”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You realize, it’s all a Liberal Democrat plot to Hurt The Honest Conservatives, don’t you? Even if it was concocted, funded, implemented, and will eventually be ended, by Trumpists.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Oh hey cogent was on my word of the day calendar too! What a coincidence. I mean it’s not like you’d just look up a word to make you seem smarter than you actually are, while disingenuously attacking someones point of view because, that’s the best thing you have going for you after swallowing a half decade of kool-aid from a bankrupt, former reality star.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And when it does, a lot of people are certainly going to be hurting inside.

You’re talking about a demographic who still fervently believe in the sanctity of Jan 6th and that all consequences faced are the result of a wider conspiracy, not because a portion of a particularly idiotic group decided on martyrdom based on the words of a madman.

When the anvil finally drops, it’s going to take another few laps around the first three stages of grief before these knuckledragging mouthbreathers realize something’s gone wrong.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"When the anvil finally drops, it’s going to take another few laps around the first three stages of grief before these knuckledragging mouthbreathers realize something’s gone wrong."

And then they’ll blame the libs. Even if Trump goes on open camera or writes a book about how to run that con, his base will always blame the libs.

Believed a grifter and now lack your pension funds? All the libs fault.
Dear Leader asked for your kids school money for a wall? The libs fault your kid is starving.
Voted for the leopard-eating-faces party? Gosh, that leopard eating your face shore must be a liberal.
Shot yourself in the crotch? Blame the goddam libs!

I saw that 66% of republicans want secession and 40% of Biden’s voters. Great. Finally an idea both sides can get behind. Let those benighted morons in the anti-vaxxing nurgle cult fuck right off down south where they can worship Dear Leader. Maybe, just maybe at least half of the US will get their shit straight enough so we the rest of the world can once again credit that nation with the sense to pour water out of a boot.

And the new confederacy can just close borders and quietly rot away undisturbed by fact and reason.

This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
TaboToka (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Here come the lawyers

The following terms and marks are trademarks of the United States of America and may not be used without permission:

United States™
United States of America™
USA™
US of A™
The States™
America™
North America™ (Canada is granted a royalty-free license to
use this term, subject to limitations)
Land of Opportunity™
Home of the Free™
Land of the Brave™
Amber waves of grain™
Purple Mountains Majesty™
Bald Eagle™
Eagle™

Any image, logo, drawing, animation, depiction or video of:

  • a Bald Eagle™,
  • Coyboy™,
  • Longhorn™
  • Red Solo® Cup
  • the Washington and Lincoln monuments,
  • the Vietnam wall and memorial,
  • the MLK memorial,
  • the Statue of Liberty,
  • the St. Louis arch,
  • every building in the New York city skyline, individually and collectively, and
  • the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (because we’re emotionally 12 years old)
catsmoke (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Greetings, from the President of the…

The following terms and marks are trademarks of the United States of America and may not be used without permission:
United States™

Is this a good point at which to note that our* neighbor to the south is officially the United States of Mexico?

*for better or for worse, I am a resident and citizen of the USA

Anonymous Coward says:

Paywalled?

where you can basically hear him tearing his hair out at the absurdity of it all … "The point is that if you launch a company with the goal of making it profitable, you have to, like, have a workable business plan and execute on it and deal with a million different operational complexities. If you launch a company with the goal of selling a lot of stock, you have to get people to trust you and give you their money. There is some overlap between those things! But they are different things!"

Well, I can’t hear him, because the "article" is only one paragraph long, ending at "there would be some real financial risk to it." I’d suspect some kind of paywall, but there’s no evidence of such—the page footer comes right after that, with no request for money or a login.

I was assuming Matt had just been half-assing these articles for a while, though Mike’s text suggests otherwise. Does anyone have a link that shows the whole thing?

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crinisen (profile) says:

Investing in a divide-by-zero-problem

Here you’re investing in the infinite supply of Stupid™ but the supply-demand curve jumped the divide-by-zero shark, and now, somehow making more available Stupid™ causing the demand for more Stupid™. Thus this is obviously the most genius investment plan ever as it is obviously a perpetual money (and Stupid™) making scheme!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

One the one hand this is typical evil Donald at play and is truly disgusting.

On the other hand, it’s removing free cash from the hands of idiots, thus reducing their ability to do damage.

Hard to say whether this is a good or a bad thing, on balance.

Anonymous Coward says:

People are buying meme stocks , nfts, eg I own this image cos my name is on a block chain, at this point I makes sense for rich people to buy a spac based on trump as he has given them billions in tax credits
Meanwhile low paid workers pay 30 per tax rates
While billionaires pay maybe 1 per cent tax
Like big company’s telecoms donate to Politicans and literally write the bills to stop municipal local broadband networks being setup
Or you might say the stock market and nfts are not really based on reality prospective earnings etc
People buying nfts makes no sense since any image online can be copied

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Tech-literate orgs like Fight For The Future and EFF have already drunk the cryptoshit Kool-Aid. These orgs as well as tech corps such as Twitter and Reddit seem intent on making sure that pyramid schemes like NFTs and cryptocurrency serve as a core facet of the Internet going forward, and that there’s nowhere convenient for people to go if they don’t want a part of that garbage.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

While I’m pretty sure Valve’s motivations were entirely self serving I still like that they’re kicking games that let you earn crypto off Steam. There’s already an absurd level of P2P scamming, they don’t need kids inadvertently mining crypto for some Ukrainian company too.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Not in a million years would I ever do business with DJT. I can’t imagine any scenario, ever, where it works out. You’ll end up doing all the work, taking all of the risk, and he and the kids will literally not do a damn thing.

I wouldn’t even let him or any of his kids run a sandwich shop.

Yet, here they are, about to rake in tons of money and, well, many a fool and their money is soon to be parted.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Yet, here they are, about to rake in tons of money and, well, many a fool and their money is soon to be parted."

Shock and Horror. You mean to imply Dear Leader would treat a body wrong? You need to watch those words, kind sir, for 90 million americans will confront you in ire for impugning the honor of The Donald. If you can make them realize what "impugn" means, that is.

Honestly, for my part I’m less confused about a grifter pulling the P.T. Barnum job. There’s always been that one born every minute. What does confuse me – still – is that the amount of lackwit yokels make up a solid 20-30% of the american citizenry.

And that is the wallet base #45 taps into. He’ll be raking it in big until he finally overreaches and has to flee the country, at which point no doubt he’ll stand as martyred president-in-exile to the benighted morons in his cult…until the GOP manages to cough up a new strongman to lead the daily 2 minute hate chant.

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sumgai (profile) says:

The real damage is coming, just not so soon....

While the SEC will eventually get around to scrutinizing what is sure to make Bonfire Of The Vanities look like a grade school prank, it will take time. Meanwhile, #45 and company are not paying the IRS what they should be paying, because the moment he touches any kind of perceived profit (he won’t be able to say he’s recovering his initial investment, right?), he’s on the hook, plain and simple. But we can damn well guess with 101% certainly just how much he’ll willing give up, eh?

So he’s sitting on a fuck-ton of cash, now what? Well, who gave him all that money, via the word "investment"? Easy – Dumbasses Are Us™ .

But here’s the thing. These so-called "investors" (who are going to go down in history as giving day-traders a good name) are going to claim that they lost money on that investment, and their tax picture is going to look a little bit more rosy, come next April. So now we have a double whammy – Trump is keeping his money out of the IRS’s hands, Joe Bleaux is legitimately claiming a loss, so there’s money not going in the government coffers, and the country as a whole comes up short. Next thing you know, Congress and the President are having to raise taxes to cover that shortfall. Uncle Sam figuratively comes knocking on your door with hat in one hand and his other stretched out with the palm up.

Remember those 3rd grade dropouts who can’t count to 11 without unzipping their pants? Yeah, I’m talking about the Dumbasses Are Us™ crowd. Well, our Uncle is gonna be knocking at their door too. Now, overall, just how much did they save by claiming a loss??

Now you know why I have such a hard time getting through life – it’s not that I don’t tolerate stupidity, it’s that I"m not afraid to tell people that my favorite quote is "It’s too bad that ignorance isn’t painful!"

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The real damage is coming, just not so soon....

You’re treating stupidity and ignorance as if they’re the same thing. They’re not. While ignorant people can (and often do) do stupid things, remember that you’re stuck with stupidity, but ignorance can be cured.

Unfortunately, here we’re looking at willful ignorance, and I’m not so sure that that can be cured.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: The real damage is coming, just not so soon....

Actually TOG and AC, the only time I used "stupid" is in the last sentence, which is a statement of my personal sentiments. Perhaps I should have used a synonym, but the net effect is the same – I don’t easily hold my tongue when I’m exposed to massive dumbass-ness. But other than that, I used "dumbass" instead of stupid, because it’s a term that we all understand, in the generic sense.

And as to the pain felt, I agree. The reason for my statement is that obviously better educated folks do feel the pain, but the ignorant don’t feel much of anything, it just slides right off of them, and they’re happier than pigs in slop. Hence the quote, though I don’t know who said it first.

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Bloof (profile) says:

A lot of Americans will wake up someday, clutching their worthless TRUMPR stock, gold plated coins and Iraqi dinars realising how they’ve been cheated and by who. Hopefully that happens before they’ve completely destroyed the western world and installed a fascist royalty they’re in no position to remove.

Bilvin Spicklittle says:

We live in a world where it is impossible to invest anymore.

Investment opportunities are finite. Sure, they expand as the years roll by, people invent new things and develop new services… but at any given point in time, there is a maximum amount of investment opportunity.

Whatever that amount happens to be today, it is also true that there are far more dollars out there chasing the opportunities. If there are $10 trillion worth of opportunities, and $20 trillion dollars to be invested, what do the other $10 trillion do? We’ve all been indoctrinated that only crazy hoarders would take their money and stuff it under the mattress Great Depression style. We’ve all been educated that even if that wasn’t crazy, inflation just eats away at the money until it is worth nothing.

So that extra $10 trillion, it gets invested in crackpot schemes. It is used to speculate on cryptocurrencies. To fund startups that will go nowhere. Hell, one way or another it ends up getting loaned to AT&T to buy the 1990s-solution to television-on-demand at the bargain price of $50 billion or whatever (though, if you were smart, you invested in the banks doing the loan to AT&T, and not to AT&T).

And, this money is distributed (not evenly though), so at the low end you get people opening 30% more restaurants than local economies can really support (let alone at the living wage rates that people are starting to demand). Most of those investments implode too.

Worse still, the rate of "money to invest" is growing at a faster rate than that of "things to invest in".

People will have to invent new cons and scams just to siphon away all this excess cash. In that context, Trump is truly an innovator.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

The foundation of stocks

There’s another side to stocks. It’s called company control.

Not everyone buys stock to invest, eg money.
Some of us just look to support a company.
Or have a voice in direction.

It’s not always about the money. That’s what really ticks off wall-street. That the people are involved again.

I have stock. A dozen shares her, half dozen there. Few hundred, or thousand shares in some “penny” companies.

I don’t invest to make money. I invest to drive a product or service.
I have no interest here but I can easily see how some Trump fans can jump.
.
Some of my tech stock is unlikely to ever match inflation. But it gives me input into small companies that have targeted demographics.

In the end, there’s nothing wrong with buying into something you support.
Be it one vote in a million, or one out of 10, or 500 out of 10,000.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: The foundation of stocks

Well yeah. The official version of this is called "trusts".

Alas Wall street knows damn well how to put a price tag on that as well. They only get heart attacks when people for some odd reason or other decide to play the same game, as with Gamestop.

After all, if a cadre of brokers have a good thing going manipulating the price of overvalued stock it’s really like pissing in their cheetos when some facebook, reddit or twitter group decides to indulge in the same type of manipulation, to their great detriment.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The foundation of stocks

Damn fucking straight!

I own enough shares of AMD and WWE to make a difference in my votes.
Not to get rich but to guide the product. I “own” 15% of a DFS, a crypto company. Not to get rich but to help guide what does and does not get added to tradable commodities.

I own 45% of a company who’s sole product is an AI for entertainment recommendations.
Financially I’ve “lost” more than 2/3 of my investment. But it is one of the most used and widely deployed methods world wide.

What Wall Street is facing is people returning to the entire base premise of stock holdings.
Guiding a company on a preferred direction, the hope of profitability being secondary.
What scares them the most is companies like AMD, Taste, Umbrella, companies who’s only requirement is break even. Companies where profits are secondary to product satisfaction.

I’ve been a board member at Sega twice.
If fought to push the Universe a dozen times as an FU to the industry. Not because it would make money: it won’t. But because it would totally destroy the profits first mentality of the industry. Bring it back to games.

The media paints GameStop as an attack. That’s a steaming heap of shite. A bubble perspective of fake news.
Regardless of where it went GameStop started as the consumer middle finger to an industry that forgot it needs the consumer to buy the product.
GameStop was a dedicated response to the all-digital movement. disclosure: I owned GameStop shares before the internet revolution and own the same number of shares today. I am also a former employee of GS, EB, And FuncoLand.

After a decade of short sales and pushing companies into death, the people are fighting back. Private trade systems have returned the power to the users. And they are using that power. Crypto holdings investment has rocked WS even further as they now complete with over-night millionaires.

This isn’t criminal! It’s not manipulation, or insider, or fraud. It’s the public taking an interest in guiding the companies they life. To hell with what AS wants.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The foundation of stocks

"The media paints GameStop as an attack. That’s a steaming heap of shite. A bubble perspective of fake news. "

Well, I wouldn’t call it completely "fake". I’m pretty convinced there was a lot of spite in the reddit-mediated backlash play.

"Regardless of where it went GameStop started as the consumer middle finger to an industry that forgot it needs the consumer to buy the product. "

Whoa there, Kemo Sabe, the "industry" which got hurt certainly does not need the consumer. Because that industry isn’t about products and services but about shuffling money around in a game of texas hold’em with the deck sufficiently well marked so as to hopefully guarantee a payoff for the major players.
And the damage done was simply due to a new player coming in and removing the markings on the deck mid play, causing those major players to lose a lot of money. Most of which they had taken as loans which in turn affected those lending them the stake. The domino effect causing a lot of zeroes to vanish from quite a few ledgers.

What I find more interesting is the concept that so much more "money" could evaporate than was actually invested from any side. It’s almost as if much of it was derived from calculating losses against expected rather than real returns.

It’s almost as if the "free market" of the west these days has less to do with Adam Smith’s ideas of capitalism than it does with P.T. Barnum’s ideas of showmanship.

Lostinlodos (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The foundation of stocks

By “industry” I refer to the game industry. That has slowly moved from supplying games to our-in-the-sky futures.

Game stop is the last beacon of first-sale doctrine. We’ve moved to the point where the gamers get screwed at the whims of an investment board. Where a company fists off a game and then uses the DMCA to stop gamers from playing.

I don’t know what the cause was at the very beginning. But it ballooned. Sites like Game News, Mega Games, GameFAQs. Sites like AV Forums and Video Help.
Whatever it started as, became a cause of action against the game industry.

This was the ultimate video game plot. People mad at the stock market/investors. People mad at the game industry. People mad at the MAFIAA. A perfect storm of rebellion against getting screwed.

As far as the base story goes, as little as I understand it: anyone who invests based on a company’s failure, who puts money against a company, as pure evil.
That is so far and away from the original point of holding shares in a company that its beyond outright disgusting. It’s evil.

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