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How to become a multibillionaire nearly overnight, just like Trump

It is generally understood that the appeal of living in the United States — the American Dream itself — is that anyone can be a success. That opportunity is offered evenly and anyone could take advantage to become a success. You can grow up to be president! You can become a billionaire! It’s there for the taking!

The reality is a bit coarser, of course, as anyone over 21 or so can attest. It’s like the line from “Cunk on Christmas” about Santa Claus. Good and bad kids both end up getting lots of presents. It’s poor kids who don’t, since “Santa judges a child’s goodness based largely on parental income.”

But this week offers a new reason to believe that massive fortunes are available to the average American. As it turns out, just by following a few simple steps, you too can become a multibillionaire in just a matter of months. And the source of the lesson in boundless wealth, remarkably enough, is a former American president.

On Tuesday, the parent company for Donald Trump’s social media website went public, offering stock for purchase. The stock price quickly surged, meaning that the wealth of stockholders did, too. And Trump owns a lot of stock in Trump Media & Technology Group (Nasdaq listing symbol “DJT”). So, by the end of the day, he’d gone from “a billionaire” (with a few billion dollars in net worth) to “one of the richest billionaires in the world.” The 377th richest, as it turns out.

For you, the person sitting at home marveling at this stroke of good luck, the whole thing probably seems somewhat esoteric. It’s not like just anyone can create a social media site that stockholders value at billions of dollars, right? No, not right. As it turns out, anyone can do what Trump did. With one small catch.

Here’s how.

That sentence is admittedly complicated-sounding to a layperson, but it really isn’t.

There is open-source software called Mastodon that provides the functionality of a Twitter-like website. (We’ll just call it “Twitter-like” since it runs the way Twitter did when it was called Twitter and that way you know what we’re talking about.) It’s like building a car from a kit: you’ve got all the pieces to make it work and then you just need to customize it to your liking.

Now perhaps you are thinking that, surely, Trump’s media company must have done something more complicated than this. He’s not building a car from a kit. He created his own car company! Right? And the answer to that, again, is no.

Truth Social is just Mastodon, with the elephant-logo elements (mostly) removed and the Mastodon-specific vernacular like calling posts “toots” (mostly) stripped away. But you can still see them. Mastodon includes a default error image of an elephant smashing on a computer keyboard. It appears in the root of a server running a Mastodon instance (like at mastodon.social). And here’s the one at Truth Social.

Still not convinced? Following the advice of other social media users, you can change your default language on Truth Social to “Nederlands” and voilà: Donald Trump’s page offers the option to view Trump’s “toots en reacties” — toots and reactions.

(The all-caps is Trump, not Mastodon.)

Trump’s team has in the past said the site is built on Mastodon. So why not build your own? Again, the tool is open-source, meaning that — like Trump’s other favorite software, BleachBit — it’s free to download and use (within certain constraints). The instructions can be found online.

Once you’ve set up your server, we’re ready to move on.

Obviously no one is going to invest in a social media site that you just started. You need to let it grow for about a year or two before you can become a billionaire.

That’s what Trump did. He launched it in February 2022, with technical glitches keeping the user count low. (The glitches have not all been smoothed out.) But slowly, over time, the site grew, adding users until it could boast a robust 5 million monthly active users by the time it went public. Only 210 million fewer users than Twitter had when it went public, or 840 million fewer than Facebook had when it did.

How hard is it to get 5 million monthly users? Not very! Rumble, a video-sharing site you might not have heard of, has about 60 million. Five million monthly users is about what Letterboxd, the movie-review site, had as of last year. And Letterboxd got there without such traffic magnets as Catturd!

And again, you don’t need to do this immediately. If it takes two years, it takes two years. Once you’re there, you’re ready to go public.

This is admittedly the trickiest step, but not necessarily an impossible one.

Donald Trump grew Truth Social by making it the sole outlet for his various all-caps musings about politics and the world around him. Given that more than 70 million people voted for him in 2020, getting 5 million to sign up for and use Truth Social wasn’t really that big a lift. If anything, it’s rather underwhelming. Particularly given that some portion of Truth Social users are not necessarily political supporters of the former president but, instead, reporters and other such undesirables.

The part about being receptive to influence from people giving you money or doing business with you is important, though. Trump has shown evidence of this tendency over and over, from his interactions with Saudi Arabia to his discussions with an investor in TikTok’s parent company to elevating random ideas from members of his club/home. To get people to invest heavily in your businesses, it’s useful to have them think they’ll get a benefit on the back end. Even Hunter Biden knew this.

Are people pouring money into Truth Social stock because they think that it’s going to overtake X (formerly Twitter) or Meta? No. They are pouring money into it because they want to show support for Trump or because they might want to take an Oval Office meeting with Trump in 2025 and tell him how much stock they bought, or both. Or they’re just pumping up the price before an inevitable dump. We’ll see.

But that’s it. Follow those three steps and, next thing you know, you’ll be on Bloomberg’s billionaires list, too. The American Dream, in all of its equal-opportunity glory.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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