Two key tech executives leave after Donald Trump’s Truth Social issue

The two Southern technology entrepreneurs needed two qualities for Donald Trump’s Truth Social Startup: a rare combination of technology-industry skills and a politically conservative worldview combined with the former president, San Francisco-centric liberal-leaning industry.

Josh Adams and Billy Boozer – the company’s head of technology and product development – joined the initiative last year and quickly became central players in building a social-media empire backed by Trump’s powerful brand, which many ridicule as “conservative.” Cancel Culture ā€¯Censorship from left.

Less than a year later, at a crucial juncture for the company’s smartphone-app release plan, both resigned from their senior positions, according to two sources familiar with the initiative.

Exit after the problematic launch of the company’s iPhone app on February 20th. Weeks later, many users are on the waiting list unable to access the platform. Devin Nunes, chief executive of the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), a former Republican congressman, has publicly stated that the company intends to launch the app in the United States by the end of March.

The company has an app for the iPhone but no app for the Android phone, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the U.S. market, although the company has advertised looking for an engineer to create one.

Buzzer declined to comment, and Adams did not respond to a request for comment. TMTG and Trump representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

This account is based on an interview with Reuters by eight people with knowledge of Truth Social’s activities, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity.

Truth Social is part of a growing sector of tech firms that work for conservatives and market themselves as free-speech champions. The platform promised Trump uninterrupted communication with the American public more than a year after Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were shut down for allegedly inciting or glorifying violence during the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots.

The exit of two executives critical of the app-launch effort could hamper the company’s progress as it seeks to prove that it can compete with mainstream platforms like Twitter, two people familiar with the company said. Like Twitter, Trump’s platform allows users to connect and share their thoughts.

“If Josh leaves … all bets are off,” one of those sources said of tech chief Adams, calling him the “brain” behind Truth Social’s technology.

Another source familiar with the initiative said Bujar also had a key leadership role as product chief, managing across the technology infrastructure, design and development team.

Reuters has not been able to determine the exact circumstances behind the resignations of the executives, or whether they have been replaced or reassigned. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

He resigned before his key role in the company, which was closely watched outside the secret culture of Truth Social, was made public.

Adams and Buzzer worked at a level just below Weiss Moss and Andy Litinsky, both former co-stars in “The Apprentice”, Trump’s hit reality TV show, according to a source familiar with the initiative.

Moss and Litinsky have been the company’s “senior, everyday leaders” since launching last summer, the source said. In January 2021, the two men introduced Trump on a social-media initiative, according to a source familiar with the company’s founding.

Reuters could not determine the specific title or responsibilities of Moss and Litinsky, neither of whom responded to a request for comment. TMTG has released little information about its executive leadership team outside of CEO Nunes, who joined in December.

Another open question is how TMTG is financing its current growth. The company plans to reach out to the public by merging with blank-check firm Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC). The deal is being scrutinized by the Securities and Exchange Commission and is a few months away from being finalized.

The DWAC revealed in a regulatory filing last December that the SEC was investigating the deal. The SEC did not address the nature of the investigation and did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

Investors have pledged $ 1 billion (approximately Rs 7,540 crore) to TMTG but will not transfer the money until the DWAC deal is terminated.

Shares of DWAC have fallen 13 percent since the market opened on Monday, while Twitter shares have risen 25 percent since investing in Tesla chief executive Elon Musk.

The level of Trump’s involvement with his named company and the Truth social platform also remains unclear. The former president has so far written only one post on the platform – or “true” – wrote on February 14: “Get ready! Your favorite president will see you soon!

Censor Tower, an analytics firm, estimates that downloads of the Truth Social app dropped sharply, from 8,66,000 installments in the week of launch to 60,000 in the week of March 14. The firm estimates that the Truth Social app has been downloaded 1.2 million times in total, lagging behind rival conservative App Parlor and Gate by 11.3 million and 6.8 million installations, respectively.

Big tech targeting

When they joined the company last year, Adams and Buzzer took a vision for a social-media company with an “anti-cancellation culture” mission, according to a source familiar with the initiative. The executives strongly believed in creating an “open platform, where you can’t say anything criminal,” the person said, “you can have your say.”

Reuters could not determine the exact date the two executives joined the firm, but they were working on the Truth social app, according to two sources familiar with the initiative.

Since the company was looking for engineers with both the necessary skills and consistent politics, Adams and Buzzer fit the bill, said another familiar with the company. To measure whether potential employers are suitable, recruiting managers explore candidates’ political ideologies, scan their social media profiles in at least one case and listen to their presence on podcasts, the person said.

The company’s political turn limited its recruitment pool. At least one candidate has turned down a hiring overcharge, saying he can’t work for Trump, a person familiar with the company said. Others who rejected the company’s outreach said they were concerned about job security and feared that the company and its employees could be the main target of hackers, according to two people with knowledge of the firm’s recruitment efforts.

Adams joined Trump’s company after building a career as a software developer from his native Alabama. He co-founded DaringBit Assembly, a product and software development consultant whose clients include the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the e-commerce startup Ship, according to the DaringBit Assembly website.

Adams is a “constitutionalist” who believes in a strict interpretation of the authors’ original intentions for the original U.S. document, said a person familiar with the company’s activities. In May 2021, Adams filed a lawsuit in federal court in Alabama against the governor of the state, a Republican, and his health official, alleging that the state masked mandate violated the United States and Alabama constitution during the coronavirus epidemic. The case was dismissed in June 2021.

Buzzer, a political conservative who previously lived in Alabama, collaborated frequently with Adams before joining Truth Social, according to sources. Along with Adams to manage the app’s back-end infrastructure, Buzzer brings a powerful command of front-end technology that touches users, according to the source.

The pair maintains a low profile despite being in a high-ranking position in closely watched ventures.

Neither Adams nor Buzzer published their work on Truth Social on their LinkedIn profile, which lists many other jobs and ventures in their past. The agency did not publicly announce their appointment.

The roles of Adams and Buzzer were listed as the chief technology officer and chief product officer of the TMTG technology team in an investor presentation in November – but without their last names. When Truth Social is launched, they often post on platforms, but again present themselves to the public only as “Josh A”. And “Billy B.”

Thomson Reuters 2022

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