Donald Trump's net worth plunges $1 billion as his media stock tumbles

Shares of Truth Social owner Trump Media & Technology Group plunged Monday after the company disclosed that it lost more than US$58 million (NZ$97.4 million) and generated very little revenue in 2023.

Former President Donald Trump is the company’s majority shareholder, and his net worth tumbled by more than $1 billion ($1.6 billion) Monday (local time) as a result.

The figures underscore why some experts warn Trump Media’s multibillion-dollar valuation defies logic and is reminiscent of the meme stock craze.

In a regulatory filing on Monday, Trump Media said it lost $58.2 million ($97.7 million) in 2023, compared with a profit of $50.5 million ($84.8 million) in 2022.

The Truth Social owner generated just $4.1 million ($6.7 million) in revenue, although that was up from $1.5 million ($2.5 million) in 2022.

Not only that, but revenue tumbled 39 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter to just $751,500 ($1.2 million). That’s not what investors want to see from any start-up, especially one valued at these levels.

Shares of Trump Media tumbled 21 percent Monday following the new filings, though they are still up nearly 200 percent so far this year.

Former President Donald Trump owns a commanding stake of 78.8 million shares in the newly public company. At Monday afternoon’s prices, that stake is now worth approximately about $3.8 billion ($6.3 billion). This represents a massive boost to Trump’s net worth, though it is down significantly from a peak of about $6.3 billion ($10.5 billion) just last week.

The losses disclosed Monday are so severe that Trump Media’s accountants warned at the time they "raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern", which is Wall Street for: We may not be able to stay in business. That warning echoes one made in November when accountants said Trump Media might not survive unless it soon completes its merger to go public.

That long-delayed deal was completed last week, paving the way for Trump Media to receive an influx of approximately $300 million ($504.1 million) in cash. The company can now use those funds to pay down debt and, importantly, build out its infrastructure.

"I believe the $300 million ($504.1 million) of cash should remove this 'going concern' risk," said Matthew Kennedy, senior IPO strategist at Renaissance Capital.

Michael Ohlrogge, an associate professor at NYU School of Law, told CNN in an email that it will be more telling if accounts are still giving a "going concern" warning now that the merger has been completed because the cash infusion should give the company a "decent bit more runway".

"Although it won't take that long to burn through the cash it raised…if they keep losing it at the rate they are," Ohlrogge said, adding that it's possible Trump Media can raise more cash by selling additional stock.

Even though Trump Media is losing money and generating scant revenue, Wall Street has valued the company by as much as $11 billion ($18.4 billion) based on the stock’s closing price Friday, according to Renaissance Capital. By Monday afternoon, that valuation tumbled to about $8.8 billion ($14.7 billion).

While Trump Media made just $4.1 million ($6.8 million) in revenue in 2023, rival X (formerly known as Twitter) raked in more than 100 times that much — $665 million ($1.1 billion) — in 2013, ahead of its initial public offering in November 2013. Twitter also generated just over $5 billion ($8.4 billion) in revenue in the final year before it was taken private by Elon Musk.

In fact, Truth Social’s financials are comparable to that of The Messenger, the upstart digital news outlet that imploded earlier this year. Citing an investor deck, CNBC reported in January that The Messenger posted 2023 revenue of $3.8 million ($6.3 million) and a net loss of $43 million ($72 million).

The problem for Trump Media is its main product — Truth Social — is shrinking.

Monthly active US users on iOS and Android plunged in February to 494,000, down 51 percent year-over-year, according to Similarweb. By comparison, X has 75 million monthly active US users. Even Threads has more than 10 times as many users as Truth Social, according to Similarweb.

"2024 is the make-or-break year for this company," said Kennedy. "For TMTG the thing that matters now is getting in front of the cash cannon that is the 2024 presidential election. And the company does have one notable advantage. Trump-backed super PACs have raised millions. Where do you think they’ll spend their digital ad buckets?"