The boss of the company looking to take Donald Trump’s Truth Social app public has personally been canvassing small retail investors in a desperate bid to keep the deal alive, The Post has learned.
Patrick Orlando, CEO of Digital World Acquisition Corp., has been picking up the phone and calling investors with as few as 20 shares each to urge them to vote for the deal, according to sources close to the situation.
Orlando — who has been forced to reschedule the vote six times — now believes he has the votes to consummate the merger, these people add. Orlando reportedly has scheduled a live interview with the IPO Edge media service for Nov. 22 — the day of the shareholder vote.
Orlando previously put $3 million into the deal in September to keep DWAC from liquidating after failing to get a vote approving the extension. If he doesn’t win the Nov. 22 vote, Orlando could deposit another $3 million by Dec. 8 to keep DWAC operating another three months as it waits for SEC approval to buy Truth Social.
If the deal is approved by shareholders and the SEC finally clears it, it will infuse the money-losing social-network with $1.25 billion in cash. Voting for the deal is also in shareholder’s interests: DWAC’s shares are trading above $20 and they would receive just $10 each if the deal is liquidated.
It’s in Trump’s interest, too: Faced with a Twitter ban and increasing disinterest from TV networks, Truth Social may be his best platform as he mounts a 2024 presidential bid.
Nevertheless, Trump has backed away from promoting Truth Social’s merger. Late last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission, which launched a probe into whether DWAC’s founders had advance knowledge of its target company before listing its shares in September 2021 — a violation of securities laws. Insiders believe Trump, already under investigation over the Jan. 6 riots, wants to avoid yet another fight with the feds.
That presents a tough climb for DWAC, which needs 65% of shareholders to approve extending the merger deadline.
A spokesperson for DWAC did not respond to a request for comment.
“DWAC is unlike any other SPAC out there,” Matthew Tuttle, Chief Executive of Tuttle Capital Management, told The Post. “Other SPACs typically have investors who know the deal inside out whereas DWAC has a majority of investors with just 50 or 100 shares.”
SPACs are shell companies that raise money in the public markets and then use that money to merge with a private company and take it public. If the SPAC can’t consummate a deal, it must return all the funds to investors.
As the clock is ticking towards the liquidation date, the likelihood of getting the deal done decreases. Trump has also previously considered merging Truth Social with other conservative “free speech” platforms like Rumble and Parler.
“When people get proxies in the mail they throw it out, when they get calls from proxy firms they ignore it,” a source close to the situation said. “It’s difficult to get retail shareholders to follow through — this is far beyond hiring a proxy firm.”
Elsewhere, in a less positive sign, regulatory filings revealed on Wednesday that DWAC board member Justin Shaner was quitting the board.