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Truth Social stock slips. Maybe read the SEC filings before investing

Truth Social going public is Trump’s latest attempt to raise money. I read the SEC filing notes and found some warnings. Maybe don’t bet your 401(k) on this one.


You may have heard – because the news was everywhere last week – that Donald Trump is suddenly a few billion dollars richer on paper after his social media site Truth Social went public Tuesday.

And you may be tempted to get in on the action for the new stock that inspired plenty of initial – even irrational? – exuberance in the market.

But take caution here, for the former one-term president has a very long history of business and personal calamities, along with a future that portends even more misfortune.

Don’t take my word for it.

That warning comes straight from two filings Truth Social submitted about Trump last month to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency in charge of protecting investors, maintaining orderly markets and “facilitating capital formation.”

Among the looming threats cited for the Republican nominee for president: He owes more than half a billon dollars in civil verdicts, has four pending criminal cases, has an extensive track record for businesses filing for bankruptcy protections and saw several entrepreneurial efforts totally flop.

Oh, and one SEC filing notes that Truth Social has such a limited reach with users that even Trump might migrate to another social media site like X, the hellscape formerly known as Twitter, to get a bigger audience.

Truth Social’s value “may diminish if the popularity of President Donald Trump were to suffer,” the SEC filing said.

A Pew Research Center poll released March 19 found 60% of Americans hold an unfavorable view of Trump.

Maybe don’t bet your 401(k) on this one.

Truth Social’s own numbers aren’t great

Trump, who owns 60% of the company that now controls Truth Social, is obligated in his license agreement to make “any non-political” posts there and then wait six hours before posting anywhere else, according to a Feb. 14 SEC filing that said the site “has limited time to benefit from his posts and followers may not find it compelling to use Truth Social to read his posts that quickly.”

The company also said Trump has “sole discretion” to use any social media website for “politically-related” posts. And the company “may lack any meaningful remedy if President Trump minimizes his use of Truth Social.”

I mean, you could say a thrice-married former real estate developer known for stiffing contractors for pay and dumping political allies in a fury has a reputation for just walking away.

Trump’s money problem: Biden and Trump are both in a world of hurt. But Biden has the cash to fix his problems.

Truth Social notes that it “will need millions” of users “to register and regularly use” the site to be successful.

The company cited a 2021 Hill-HarrisX poll that found 54% of registered voters would not use Truth Social, while 30% said they would and 16% said maybe. No surprise here: Those results varied by political affiliation – 78% of Democrats and 58% of independents wanted no part of Truth Social, while 54% of Republicans wanted to log on.

Twitter, now X, had 215 million active monthly users when it went public in 2013, Axios noted Wednesday, while Truth Social had just 5 million active monthly users when it went public Tuesday. X this month said it has 550 million active monthly users (X did not disclose how many of them are scam-bots trying to sell you bogus cryptocurrency).

The business model for now is upside down, with Truth Social putting up $3.3 million in sales in the first nine months of 2023 and losses of $49 million.

The stock was a rollercoaster ride last week, opening Tuesday at $70.90 per share and surging to $79.38 before dropping to $61.96 when the Nasdaq closed on Thursday. (The market was closed for Good Friday.)

Trump’s own business history works against him in Truth Social filing

Truth Social also spelled out for the SEC the long and weird history of Trump ventures gone wrong while asserting “there can be no assurances” that this company won’t go the same route.

Remember Trump Shuttle, Inc.? That airline, the filing said, was launched by Trump in 1989, defaulted on loans a year later and “ceased to exist by 1992.”

Trump University opened in 2005 but was dead in six years, with lawsuits that lingered into Trump’s first run for president in 2016 and wrapped up in 2018 with a $25 million settlement from the guy then living in the White House.

Trump Vodka, produced by a company that licensed his name, lasted six years. Trump Mortgage and, two businesses he started in 2006, were dead a year later. Trump Steaks didn’t age well either, with a two-month run in 2007.

Americans want a religious president. They just don’t see Trump or Biden that way.

Truth Social’s SEC documents give us a history for Trump’s six casino and hotel bankruptcy protection filings from 1991 to 2009 in Atlantic City and New York. There’s also a breakdown in there of his many lawsuits, which references a 2016 USA TODAY compilation of those legal actions.

Trump sues people and gets sued so often that Truth Social told the SEC its warning “does not purport to be an exhaustive list” of those cases.

Then there are Trump’s very real legal problems

Trump’s more recent legal entanglements get a run-down as well.

There’s the New York case going to trial next month on charges of paying a porn star hush money to keep talk of an affair quiet during the 2016 election, the Georgia case where he’s accused of trying to overturn the 2020 election, the Florida federal case charging him with keeping and hiding confidential documents at Mar-a-Lago, and the federal case for his actions before and during the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

“The death, incarceration, or incapacity of President Trump” could be bad for business, Truth Social said in the SEC filing, because he is “the subject of numerous legal proceedings, the scope and scale of which are unprecedented for a former President of the United States and current candidate for that office.”

Trump is also on the hook for $88.3 million in two verdicts for defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll after she accused him of sexual assault and $454 million for operating a New York business rife with fraud.

Trump does enjoy one venue where nothing he says or does can be used against him: Truth Social.

The company told the SEC it can’t kill Trump’s licensing agreement for “personal or political conduct” even if it could hurt Truth Social’s “reputation or brand or be considered offensive, dishonest, illegal, immoral, or unethical, or otherwise harmful.”

That sounds like a deal tailor-made for a guy like Trump given his history. But does that make Truth Social a good bet for savvy stock market players? That’s for you to decide.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Follow USA TODAY elections columnist Chris Brennan on X, formerly known as Twitter: @ByChrisBrennan

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