By Matt Egan, CNN Business
Elon Musk’s quest to become a social media mogul is dealing a blow to Donald Trump’s social venture.
Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corporation, the controversial blank-check firm that plans to merge with Trump Media & Technology Group, fell 13% on Monday to close at $35.71.
That’s the lowest level since the Trump deal was announced last October — and the selloff comes as Musk reaches a deal to take over Twitter, one of the Big Tech companies Trump had vowed to take on. At one point, the stock was down as much as 19%.
Trump Media & Technology Group recently launched Truth Social, a Twitter clone aimed at conservatives whom Trump claims Twitter has silenced.
“There’s no need to download Truth Social if you can get it on Twitter,” said Matthew Kennedy, senior IPO market strategist at Renaissance Capital, which provides IPO-focused ETFs and pro-IPO research.
Since the final trading day before Musk surprised Wall Street by saying he had amassed a stake in Twitter, Digital World has lost 44% of its value. The special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, closed at $63.25 on April 1 before Musk’s announcement April 4.
Musk, a longtime critic of Twitter’s content moderation policies, has vowed to transform Twitter in part by bolstering free speech on the platform. The Tesla CEO agreed to buy Twitter in a deal that values the company at about $44 billion.
A Musk-run Twitter would undercut the rationale for Truth Social, which Trump had promised would “stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech.” There is even speculation that Twitter, under Musk’s control, could lift the ban on Trump himself.
Trump weighed in on the issue on Monday, telling Fox News he will not return to Twitter despite Musk’s takeover.
“I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on Truth,” Trump told Fox News. “I hope Elon buys Twitter because he’ll make improvements to it and he is a good man, but I am going to be staying on Truth.”
Below $36, the implied valuation of Trump Media & Technology Group has tumbled to roughly $7.7 billion, according to Kennedy of Renaissance Capital. That’s down sharply from around $13 billion before Musk disclosed his Twitter investment.
“While the market apparently believes that a Twitter owned by Elon Musk dims the outlook of Truth Social, Trump still has some financial incentives to use Truth,” Kennedy said.
Beyond Musk’s efforts to acquire Twitter, the Trump SPAC has been hurt by the slow start of Truth Social. As CNN reported earlier this month, Truth Social has been plagued by a lengthy waitlist, a lack of content and high-profile contents that appear to be bots.
Since hitting a 2022 high of $101.87 on March 2, Digital World is down by about 65%.
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