How much are Truth Social’s executives making after Trump Media lost millions?

With share prices falling, key players at Trump Media & Technology Group will still stand to have good payday

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 10 April 2024 00:51 BST
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Trump Media & Technology Group has generated few positive headlines since its value initially soared when it started trading on the tech-focused Nasdaq under the stock ticker symbol of DJT — former president Donald Trump’s initials.

Barely two weeks after the merger with shell company Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC) that saw the new entity go public, the parent company of social media platform Truth Social has seen its shares tank and has been steadily declining in value, on some days by around five per cent.

At the root of this were filings with the Securities & Exchange Commission in which the company posted a loss of $58.2m in 2023 with revenue at just $4.1m despite being valued as worth billions of dollars. The company has been described as the latest “meme stock” given the disconnect between its finances and perceived worth by some trading in its shares.

While the firm has big ambitions about competing with the likes of Meta, X, and Alphabet in the social media space, and further ideas to move beyond that into other online businesses, with just 36 employees and paltry revenue, these currently seem more of a dream.

The SEC filing also revealed the compensation packages and shareholdings of top executives in the firm — some of whom are familiar faces from Trumpworld — as well as those of the former president himself.

Here’s what we learned about how much each of them stands to gain now that both the merger and market launch are complete, even with the share price falling.

Donald Trump

The former president and current Republican presidential candidate is not just the reason Truth Social exists — having been conceived after he was banned from other social media platforms following the January 6 Capitol riot — but he is also its biggest draw to the platform with almost seven million followers.

Mr Trump is the largest shareholder of the new company with 78.75 million shares which equates to almost 58 per cent of the common stock. He could receive another 36 million shares over the next three years, so long as the share price stays above a certain level.

While the share price has fallen significantly from its peak of $78 to its current level of $36, it reportedly still remains above those predetermined levels, according to CNBC.

Notably, the former president is not an executive of the company, but he and the top salaried executives are not permitted to cash in any shares for six months. At the current share price, the former president’s shares are valued at approximately $2.8bn. At the peak of the market they were worth more than $6bn.

Devin Nunes

Former Republican congressman Devin Nunes, who represented the 21st and 22nd congressional districts in California from 2003 to 2022, is a longtime Trump loyalist.

From 2015 until 2019 he was the chair of the House Intelligence Committee and launched an investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election shortly after Mr Trump became president. A year later he released a four-page memorandum alleging an FBI conspiracy against the president, launching an investigation into the bureau and the Department of Justice claiming they had abused their powers to go after Mr Trump. The former president awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom shortly before he left office in January 2021.

It was later that year that Mr Nunes resigned his seat in Congress to join the Trump Media group as CEO, overseeing the launch of Truth Social in February 2022.

Mr Nunes was paid an annual salary of $750,000 and will receive a $600,000 retention bonus, according to the SEC filing, which will be paid in two tranches. In January his salary was raised to $1m and he is also eligible for a company bonus plan if one were implemented.

The former congressman was also awarded stock in the merger which replaced a promissory note of $1.15m promised to him when the company was still private. He received 115,000 shares which at the current stock price of $36 are worth about $4.1m (at the market peak, approximately $9m).

Phillip Juhan

Trump Media’s chief financial officer Phillip Juhan joined the company from Town Sports International, which owns gym brands including New York Sports Club among others.

His current salary is $350,000, having risen from $337,500 in 2023, and stepping up from $300,000 when he joined the company in 2021. Post-merger he will receive a pay bump of $15,000.

Mr Juhan also had a promissory note from the company that became shares after the merger. He was promised $4.9m which became 490,000 shares ($17.64m at today’s share price of $36, $38.2m at the peak).

Such a heavy weighting on shares as part of his potential total compensation is an incentive to keep the share price high to maximise his own remuneration as well as those of others.

He will also receive a retention bonus of $600,000 and will be eligible to receive “discretionary equity awards” under an incentive plan.

Andrew Northwall

Chief Operating Officer Andrew Northwall, formerly owner of Northwall Strategies and with experience at Parler as the platform’s chief architect, had a promissory note from Trump Media for $200,000, which in line with his fellow executives became 20,000 shares ($720,000 at today’s pricing, $1.58m at the market peak).

His annual salary is $365,000, and as with Mr Nunes and Mr Juhan, he too will receive a retention bonus of $600,000 as well as being eligible for other incentive plans.

All three executives will be negotiating new employment agreements post-merger according to the SEC filing.

Kash Patel and Dan Scavino

Kash Patel is a former Trump administration official and previously senior aide to Mr Nunes when he was in Congress. He held positions on the National Security Council and as an advisor to the director of national intelligence and the acting secretary of defence.

A Trump loyalist, he played an important role in fighting investigations into the former president regarding Russian interference.

After Mr Trump left office, Mr Patel became a member of the board of directors of Trump Media but is not a salaried employee. According to the SEC filing, he was paid $130,000 from consulting work in 2022 and does not own shares.

Dan Scavino was deputy chief of staff for communications in the Trump White House and director of social media, having also worked on the former president’s 2016 campaign. He is still actively working on Mr Trump’s re-election campaign.

According to the SEC filing, Mr Scavino was paid $240,000 in 2023 as part of a consulting agreement with his firm Hudson Digital. He also received a promissory note for $2.2m from when the company was privately held — there is no information as to why this note was issued or whether it is transferable into stock in the new company.

Mr Scavino is also eligible for a retention bonus of $600,000 to be paid within a month of the merger.

Other executives

Beyond the ranks of CEO, CFO, and COO, Trump Media will also be paying retention bonuses totalling $1.24m to other executives, though no further details or breakdown are given in the SEC filing.

Other executives are however named as Sandro De Moraes, the chief product officer; Vladimir Novachki, the chief technology officer; and Scott Glabe, the general counsel.

While Mr De Moraes has just 45 shares bought on the open market, Mr Novachki has 45,000 and Mr Glabe has 20,000

Eric Swider, a board member of Trump Media who previously held the position of CEO of DWAC until the merger, owns 153,153 shares, though 143,000 of those are issued to Renatus, a company in which he is a managing partner. The remaining shares are owned by him personally, according to a footnote in the SEC filing.

Also listed as directors are Donald Trump Jr, W Kyle Green, former US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and former Small Business Administrator and WWE founder Linda McMahon.

Other shareholders

While the directors and executive officers of Trump Media individually own less than one per cent of the company, as mentioned earlier Mr Trump himself owns 57.6 per cent.

Other significant portions of shares are owned by ARC Global Investments II LLC (9,547,101 shares, 6.9 per cent, and United Atlantic Ventures (7,525,000, 5.5 per cent).

Since its barnstorming first day as a publicly traded stock on the Nasdaq, the narrative surrounding Trump Media has been somewhat negative — most significantly the huge loss in 2023 revealed by the SEC filing.

It was also learned that the company was allegedly kept afloat in 2022 through a series of emergency loans provided, in part, by a Russian-American businessman under scrutiny as part of a federal investigation into insider trading, according to a report by The Guardian.

Separately, two investors who participated in an insider trading scheme related to Trump Media pleaded guilty approximately 10 months after they were arrested and charged with trading in securities of DWAC based on material, non-public information about the merger between DWAC and Trump Media.

Finally, Mr Trump is suing two co-founders of Trump Media, claiming that they set up the company improperly and should lose their stock in the venture.

The former president filed a suit against Andy Litinsky and Wes Moss, who were two former contestants from his NBC reality show The Apprentice, seeking to ban them from owning shares or appointing board members.

They have filed a lawsuit against Mr Trump over the valuation of the shares they hold in the company and want to be allowed to cash out before they lose more value.

Their shares are held under the United Atlantic Ventures name through a 2021 agreement signed with Mr Trump.

A Delaware judge on 9 April allowed them to add an allegation that Mr Trump, after their fall out, ordered them not to sell their shares for at least six months.

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