Trump finds support for his own media business
Former President Donald J. Trump said on Wednesday he had raised the investment money to start his own publicly traded media company, in an attempt to reinsert himself into the online public conversation of which he has largely been. absent since Twitter and Facebook banned it after the January 6 uprising.
If finalized, the deal could give the new Trump company access to nearly $ 300 million in spending money.
In a statement announcing the new company, Mr. Trump and his investors said the new company will be called Trump Media & Technology Group and they will create a new social network called Truth Social. Its aim, according to the statement, is “to create a rival of the liberal media consortium and to fight against the ‘big tech’ companies of Silicon Valley.”
Since stepping down and becoming the only US president to be impeached twice, Mr. Trump has been actively featured in the conservative media. But it lacks the ability it once had to influence news cycles and dominate national political debate. He filed a complaint this month asking Twitter to reinstate his account.
Wednesday’s announcement also pointed to a new app promised for pre-sale on the App Store, with artwork mockups showing more than a fleeting resemblance to Twitter.
Details of Mr. Trump’s latest partnership were vague. The statement he made is reminiscent of the kinds of claims he made about his New York business dealings as a real estate developer. It was full of large amounts and impossible to verify superlatives.
Rumors that Mr. Trump would be interested in starting his own media business have circulated since his defeat in the November 2020 election. None have materialized. Despite early reports that he was interested in starting his own cable channel to compete with Fox News, it was never an idea that has gone very far given the immense costs and time involved in it. A close advisor, Jason Miller, has started a rival social media platform for Trump supporters called Gettr. But Mr. Trump never signed.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Miller said of his and Mr. Trump’s negotiations: “We just couldn’t come to an agreement.”
Mr. Trump’s partner is Digital World Acquisition, a Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC. These so-called blank check companies are an increasingly popular type of investment vehicle that sells shares to the public with the intention of using the proceeds to buy private companies.
Digital World was incorporated in Miami a month after Mr. Trump lost the 2020 election.
The company filed for an initial public offering this spring and sold shares to the public on the Nasdaq stock exchange last month. IPO raised approximately $ 283 million, and Digital World raised an additional $ 11 million by selling shares to investors through a so-called private placement.
Digital World is backed by some big name Wall Street names and others with powerful connections. In regulatory filings after the IPO, major hedge funds, including BY Shaw, Highbridge Capital Management, Flagship partners and Saba Capital Management reported owning substantial percentages of Digital World.
The Managing Director of Digital World is Patrick F. Orlando, a former employee of investment banks including German Deutsche Bank, where he specialized in trading in so-called derivative financial instruments. He created his own investment bank, Benessere Capital, in 2012, according to a recent regulatory filing.
Digital World Chief Financial Officer Luis Orleans-Braganza is a member of the Brazilian National Congress.
Mr. Orlando disclosed in a recent deposit that he owned nearly 18 percent of the outstanding shares of the company. Mr. Orlando and representatives for Digital World did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This is not Mr. Orlando’s first blank check business. He has created at least two more, including one, Yunhong International, which is incorporated in the offshore tax haven of the Cayman Islands.
At the time investors bought Digital World shares, he had not disclosed which companies, if any, he planned to acquire. On its website, Digital World said its goal was to “focus on combining with a top tech company.”
At least one of the investors, Saba Capital Management, was unaware at the time of the initial public offering that Digital World would be doing a deal with Mr. Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Mr. Trump, who repeatedly lied about the 2020 election results while accusing the mainstream media of publishing “fake” stories to discredit him, leaned heavily on the notion of truth as a philosophy of governance of his new company.
“We live in a world where the Taliban have a strong Twitter presence, but your favorite US president has been silenced,” Trump said in his written statement, promising to publish his first article soon. “This is unacceptable.”