Social investing is about trust in Trump, not business fundamentals – The Washington Post

Social investing is about trust in Trump, not business fundamentals – The Washington Post

Jerry Dean McLain first bet on former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social two years ago, buying out the Trump company’s planned merger partner, Digital World Acquisition, at $90 a share. Over time, as the price changed, he kept buying, amassing hundreds of shares for $25,000 – pretty much his “entire nest egg,” he said.

That nest egg has lost about half its value over the past two weeks, with Trump Media & Technology Group’s stock price falling from $66 after its public debut last month to $32 on Friday. But McLain, 71, who owns a tree-cutting service outside Oklahoma City, said he’s not worried. On the contrary, he wants to buy more.

“I know very well that it is in Trump’s hands and that he has plans,” he said. “I have no doubt it’s going to explode one day.”

For shareholders like McLain, investing in Truth Social is less a business calculation than a declaration of confidence in the former chairman and the company trading under his initials, DJT.

Even the company’s plummeting stock price — and the possibility that their investments could be largely wiped out — doesn’t seem to have shaken that confidence. The company has lost $3.5 billion since its IPO last month.

As a company, Trump Media has been largely disappointed: The company lost $58 million last year on $4 million in revenue, less than the average Chick-fil-A franchise, although it has paid millions in executive salaries, bonuses and stock.

And in two years, Truth Social has attracted a tiny fraction of the traffic other platforms see, according to estimates from analytics firm Similarweb — one of the only ways to measure its performance, given that the company says It “does not currently do so, and may never collect, monitor or report certain key operational metrics used by companies in similar industries.

But for some Trump investors, the action is a badge of honor — a way to show their dedication beyond buying Trump products, visiting Trump’s golf courses or donating to the presidential campaign of Trump.

Trump Media spokesperson Shannon Devine said in a statement that “Truth Social has created a free speech beachhead against Big Tech for a fraction of the startup and operating costs incurred by former technology companies, while having no debt, more than $200 million. in banking, and the support of hundreds of thousands of individual investors who fervently believe in our mission.

Trump Media has boasted that it has benefited from a flood of “retail investors” – small amateur shareholders betting their personal money. Its merger partner, Digital World Acquisition, said its shares were purchased by nearly 400,000 retail investors, and Trump Media Chief Executive Devin Nunes told Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo on Sunday that the company had added more than 200,000 in the past two years. weeks.

“There’s no other company that has retail investors like this,” said Nunes, who this year will receive a $1 million salary, a $600,000 retention bonus and a stock package. currently worth $3.7 million.

In an interview last month with conservative commentator Sean Hannity, the former Republican congressman recounted a recent discussion with Trump in which the men celebrated having “opened the Internet and kept it open to the American people.”

“I will never forget the conversation we had,” Nunes said. “He said, ‘You know, once we’re all dead and gone, this will last forever.’ »

Many Truth Social investors say they are in it for the long term. Todd Schlanger, an interior designer at a furniture store in West Palm Beach who said Trump was one of his clients, said he has invested about $20,000 in total and is buying new actions every week.

Schlanger said he now monitors his stock’s performance daily, hoping for positive signs. In a Truth Social article last week, he encouraged “anyone who supports Donald Trump and Truth [Social to] buy a stock every day” and asked, “Do you think we’ve hit bottom?” (The stock slipped nearly 10 percent after this release.)

He suspects recent stock price declines are the result of “stock market manipulation” resulting from an “organized effort” to make the company look bad. There is no evidence of such a campaign, but Schlanger is convinced of it. “It has to be political,” he said, from all “the liberals who are trying to bring him down.”

This range of emotions is on full display at Truth Social, where thousands of mostly anonymous accounts have flocked to meme-filled investor groups, one of which is adorned with a computer-generated image showing Trump brandishing his fist on a Wall Street trading floor.

Some accounts recently encouraged traders to continue investing in a fight they claimed was “good versus evil” — a way of defending Trump against liberal elites who mock him and, by extension, them . User @BaldylocksUSMC said that “it’s been a long, hard fight for most of us” and that “this stock is not for the weak,” but that one day they would triumph over the criticism that took “irreparable brainwashing”.

After billionaire media mogul Barry Diller called Trump Media “fraudulent” stocks bought by “dopes,” one account, @Handbag72, claimed to have bought more shares, arguing that Diller didn’t “get it » or that he “was at risk of being scammed”. [losing] $$$$. The next day, the account shared a 2021 blog post from investment forum Seeking Alpha claiming that Truth Social could be worth $1 trillion over the next 10 years.

But there are also glimmers of uncertainty and disenchantment, with some saying they have suffered losses of thousands of dollars or “risked their lives.” [literally] everything.” A user who posted “Have you had enough of WINNING yet? Earlier this year, when the stock was climbing, it was announced that this week’s losses were “sick to the stomach.”

“Come on DJT, every time I buy more the price drops more,” user @bill7718 wrote. “When will it be BOTTOM!!” (He posted a chart Thursday showing the stock up slightly with the caption “It’s moving!!.” The price has since fallen back.)

User @manofpeace123, who said he bought the stock at $65 and had 71% of his portfolio in DJT stock, said Wednesday that investing was a way of telling Trump, “I believe in you and I am with you in good times and bad. .” But a day later, the user added: “I can’t help but feel sad. …I feel like I’m trying to catch a falling knife.

Another account, @realJaneBLONDE, posted on Sunday that she was “NOT panicked or worried” before, two days later, posting a message to Trump and congressional Republicans urging them to make gambling “illegal.” or short selling of stocks.

“I’m tired of MY investment money being stolen!!” she wrote. “They are stealing people’s money and you allow it!!”

Some users said they were “baffled” by the ups and downs of the title, and one asked for advice on how to tell her husband she didn’t want to sell. One user posted a meme image saying, “If you’re worried about your money, remember this, DJT action is about FREE SPEECH and without FREE SPEECH, money won’t mean much.” »

But other users saw these questions as an unacceptable display of doubt. When user @seneca1950 asked if anyone was concerned that the company’s upcoming plans to issue tens of millions more shares would depress the stock price, two accounts criticized the account for spreading the “FUD” – fear, uncertainty and doubt.

“Are you a Fudster,” wrote a user named “Jesus Revolution 2024.” Another wrote, called Rabristol: “You must be small and dead-end! »

In moments of apparent desperation, some users are working to lift each other up by claiming they are experiencing the same type of “deep state” attacks that have long followed Trump himself. When user @BingBlangBlaow said he was embarrassed to be so “deep in the red” and wondered why “everyone [was] acting like everything is fine,” Chad Nedohin, a Canadian investor and prominent cheerleader for the title at Truth Social and the video site Rumble, replied: “No [one’s] it’s okay, but we’re DJT now. The Deep State is going after Trump…and us. »

The user, however, later posted that the argument did not leave him convinced. “I’m tired of blaming the deep state,” he said. Later, he added: “You would think that the ‘greatest political movement of all time’ would want to support the man who leads it and get much better numbers than this one. (The accounts did not respond to messages and offered no way to contact them.)

Carol Swain, a prominent Nashville conservative commentator who previously taught political science at Vanderbilt University, said she invested $1,000 in Trump Media stock earlier this month, at $48 a share, despite the objections of his financial advisor, who predicted that stocks would plunge.

“If I lose it, fine. If I make a profit, that’s wonderful. But ultimately I wanted to show my support,” she said. “There is such an effort to destroy him and take away his riches, and there is so much joy in that. I would like to see him be a winner.

She also suspects stock market manipulation, arguing that “people who hate Donald Trump would do anything to try to hurt him.” As for Truth Social itself, she said she only posts there sparingly and prefers X, where she has 35 times more followers. “I always wanted to go beyond just preaching to the choir,” she said.

McLain, the Oklahoma tree service owner, said he thinks the stock could “get to $1,000 a share, easily” once the media stops writing so negatively about him and that the company would have overcome its growing pains. Company executives, he says, are “too quiet right now” in the face of questions about the falling stock price, but he suspects that’s because they’re working on something incredible and again.

McLain is an amateur trader: he has only invested once before and “lost” [his] butt” — and said he didn’t tell his family about his investment, saying, “You know how it is.” But he believes the Trump Media deal is a sign he’s “meant to invest,” he said.

“For me, it’s not just another action. … I feel like it was God Almighty who put it in my lap,” he said. “I just have to hold on and let them do their job. If you rely on emotion, you will get through it the first time. »

Razzan Nakhlawi contributed to this report.


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