Image: Jamel Toppin for Forbes
In October 2021, Donald Trump was eager for revenge. Nine months earlier he had been banned from Twitter, depriving him of his primary means of communicating with his followers. His solution? Build his own Twitter, dubbed Truth Social. As soon as he announced the plan, supporters piled into Truth Social’s special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Shares shot up from $10 to $175 in two days, implying that the business was worth $22 billion, his interest amounting to $19 billion.
The hype never lined up with reality. In December 2021, a group of big-money investors promised to inject $1 billion in cash into the venture—but only if they got a sweetheart deal. Shares were trading for $45 by then, but the new investors were guaranteed to profit as long as they stayed above $10. Using that $10 figure, Forbes previously valued Trump’s stake at $730 million.
But things have changed. Authorities are swarming. Also, Elon Musk bought Twitter, reversed Trump’s ban and undercut the case that the world needed a more conservative Twitter. Today, shares of Trump’s SPAC are 92 percent off their highs, trading at $14 apiece, suggesting the former president’s business is worth $1.2 billion. Also read: A look at the World's billionaires: The planet now has 2,640 billionaires
That still seems absurdly high. The fundamental problem is that barely anyone uses Truth Social. Before it launched, an investor presentation suggested the app would attract 81 million users by 2026. Now, over a year after going live, it has only an estimated 5 million. Given that Trump owns roughly 85 percent of the business and Twitter is worth an estimated $42 per user, the former president’s stake probably adds up to roughly $180 million.
Even that might be too much. Truth Social is adding an estimated 100,000 users per month. If people continue to join at the current pace—and assuming no one quits or dies—Truth Social will not hit its projected 81 million users until 2086. By that point, Trump would be 140 years old. A more likely outcome: Truth Social will join Trump Steaks, Trump University and GoTrump.com in the graveyard of failed ventures.
(This story appears in the 05 May, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)