Rumble is a rapidly-growing social media company with strong support among conservative Americans. Next year, Rumble will go public in an SPAC deal valued at more than $2 billion. This transaction would be similar to one that former President Trump envisioned for his right-wing media group.
Rumble plans to merge with Cantor Fitzgerald’s investment firm in order to go public. Cantor Fitzgerald is a Wall Street bank that has been around for decades. Rumble will be left with $300 million cash in the deal, according to the statement released Wednesday night. They expect to be done by the 2nd quarter of next year.
Cantor Fitzgerald’s investment vehicle for Cantor Fitzgerald, already traded publicly under the CFVI ticker and saw shares increase by almost 25%, to $12.
Rumble, which was founded in 2013, bills itself as a “true neutral platform” but has become a popular site among Republicans over the last two years as criticism of existing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter has increased among conservatives, who say they unfairly limit speech.
“Rumble is designed to be the rails and independent infrastructure that is immune to cancel culture,” Rumble CEO and founder Chris Pavlovski said a statement. “We are a movement that does not stifle, censor, or punish creativity and believe everyone benefits from access to a neutral network with diverse ideas and opinions.”
Rumble exploded in popularity following Trump’s 2020 presidential election loss with its monthly users rising from around 2 million to over 20 million at the end of last year. It now has nearly 40,000,000 users. Fueling that are conservative media personalities who’ve made a home for themselves on Rumble. An investor prospectus for the SPAC highlights figures such as Dan Bongino, Rep. Devin Nunes, Glenn Greenwald—and Trump.
Putting a spotlight on the former president’s presence on Rumble is ironic, since the ex-president has lined himself up as a competitor to Rumble. He plans to create a social media app called Truth Social with a business plan nearly identical to Rumble’s: Offer conservatives a new place away from traditional social media. Right-wingers have also been flocking to Gab, Telegram, and the relaunched Parler.
Trump also wants to make use of a SPAC in order to raise cash and attention for Truth Social. He is taking advantage the trend around blank-check corporations. He and Rumble see SPACs as a great lure. These allow them to bypass traditional funding routes, which might not be available to openly partisan companies. This opens up a path to public markets. This allows them to rally support from users and their supporters, thereby turning them into investors.
The publicly traded, investment vehicle which Trump plans to join has seen its shares swing from less than $10 to over $100 since Trump’s announcement of the SPAC. Since then, they have dropped to below $50. Those shareholders aren’t driven by what has traditionally motivated interest in a stock: concrete financial figures and future projections. In his SPAC prospectus, Trump made a very brief pitch. Instead, he broadly outlined a dream about competing with every media company from Disney to Facebook, while building a web-services arm that would, theoritically, compete with Amazon’s own such unit. (Why? Amazon has sometimes removed conservative sites from its listings because they contain controversial content. Trump could find a niche business offering the same product, but not caring what it publishes.
Rumble offers more, which could be attractive to investors. Unlike Trump’s company, which has yet to launch as much as a beta-version app, Rumble does actually have an existing, eight-year-old business, though its prospectus offers no insight on basic markers of corporate success like revenue or profit. Rumble does show a recent, rapid increase in user numbers and significant engagement. Rumble’s prospectus states that 8 Billion minutes of video was viewed by users in the 3rd quarter. That is 3,900% more than a year ago. And Rumble also proposes to set up a web-hosting business similar to Amazon’s.
No, tangible business proposals aren’t really what seems to be propelling the share prices for Trump and Rumble. These companies have become meme stocks and securities that are prone to gyrations in prices as well as insane investor sentiment.
What is the market worth of a Trump-branded social network company? Are Rumble shares worth the increase that they’ve seen this morning? The underlying financials don’t fully support either. Instead, buying their stock seems more like investing in a social statement rather than betting on future cash flows and profits. Remember Trump’s business has neither cash nor income, and while Rumble presumably might, it hasn’t detailed that publicly.
At the start of meme stock mania this year, buying a GameStop share was a comment that you were online, young—and wanted to flip the bird to existing traditional investors who had battered the stock. Some individuals did very well trading GameStop stocks and were able to join the club. Others lost lots of money but they were allowed to join.
Trump shares and Rumble are a way to express a similar view. But this time, it’s Big Tech. Those shares are as much about belonging to a online community as they are about financing the operations of a media company—just as investing in GameStop was only partially about a bet on the future of buying videogames in person from a shopping mall store.
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