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Trump seeks big funding for new social media app

Trump has a new social media app, and he's off looking for cash to bring it to a screen near you.

Truth Social, which looks like Twitter except with more Trump, is aiming to roll out in the first three months of next year... if you wanted something to look forward to in 2022.

But that's only the first step.

Fighting talk? A Trump in need of cash is hoping fans will invest in his new media venture, fueled by revenge against what he sees as liberal Big Tech.
    (Source: White House)
Fighting talk? A Trump in need of cash is hoping fans will invest in his new media venture, fueled by revenge against what he sees as liberal Big Tech.
(Source: White House)

Afterwards, allegedly, a video-on-demand subscription service will follow, combining entertainment and news. TMTG+, it'll be called (for Trump Media & Technology Group). And then branching into cloud, it sees itself as the next big rival to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud.

Trump Cloud

On the last point, there may be seeds of a grudge. Parler, the so-called "free speech" social network favored among Trump's supporters, was kicked off AWS. The app will "stand up to Big Tech," says Trump. For now, though, Trump Media & Technology Group is merging with a special purpose acquisition company (a.k.a. a "blank check" company), Digital World Acquisition Group, with a valuation of $875 million. But since that valuation includes debt, Trump's group only stands to get $293 million of it.

Why not go bigger, naturally. Trump is now trying to raise an extra $1 billion, citing a valuation of $3 billion after Trump supporters have been out buying Digital World shares.

Trump – if you've wondered what he's been up to – has been working the phones to ask individual investors to hand over more than $100 million. But some hedge funds are selling the stock now to distance themselves from him. Saba Capital Management and Lighthouse Investment Partners are two that have quickly dumped their shares.

Bear in mind Trump's last experiment with social media platforms – getting banned from most of them after allegedly encouraging supporters to commit more violent acts following the deadly January 6 riots at the US Capitol.

Another danger is passing muster with the regulators. Senator Elizabeth Warren has asked the SEC chair Gary Gensler to investigate the merger and whether it violated security laws about disclosure.

It all appears to be part of how Trump, who has repeatedly expressed a desire to embark on another presidential candidacy, can find a future role, and possibly more to the point, cash.

App with buttons for small hands

Before most social media platforms barred him, Trump had 89 million Twitter followers, besides 33 million on Facebook and 24.5 million on Instagram. "Your favorite American President has been silenced. This is unacceptable," Trump said in an October statement.

Truth Social had given itself a goal of launching a beta invitation-only version by the end of November, but has missed that.

The website, as it has done since October, only includes a form to sign up for a waiting list. Which is to say, Trump is still fairly silent, even on his own app. For investors who'd bought DWAC stock, Truth Social missing its first clear test is not likely to be an extremely encouraging sign.

DWAC shares shot up to $175 a share after the merger with Trump Media & Technology Group was announced, from an initial pre-merger value of $10 a share. They've now dropped down to around $44. At DWAC's initial public offering in September, before the Trump merger plans were announced on October 20, DWAC raised $290 million.

In the meantime, journalist Mikael Thalen tweets he was "able to set up an account using the handle @donaldtrump on 'Truth Social', using the waiting-list page.

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Elsewhere in the media world, Trump's desire to write a post-presidential memoir has stumbled on the tiny problem that major publishing houses have feared fact-checking the former president's claims, as well as the backlash from publishing him. Instead, he looks to be self-publishing a coffee table book, with a new imprint set up just for the purpose, called Winning Team Publishing. It is run by his former campaign aide Sergio Gor and his son, Donald Trump Jr.

You could have a signed copy for $229.99, if you haven't yet decided what you want for Christmas. Yet Twitter for the alt-right is already a fairly crowded space. Former Trump advisor Jason Miller launched a platform called Gettr, which joins another, set up by Andrew Torba, called Gab.

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Pádraig Belton, contributing editor special to Light Reading

[Ed. note: This story was updated to more clearly state the accusations made by social media companies against the former president when his accounts were suspended.]

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