New reporting from Fortune is highlighting how coordinated efforts from far-right activists and interest groups to create a “parallel economy” catering to voters that share their ideology is failing. The story details how from boycotts of companies like Target to “anti-woke” ETFs and financial firms built around the same idea, to the “alt-right media ecosystem,” including companies like Donald Trump’s Truth Social, the efforts of “anti-wokester jokesters are financially foundering.”
With Fortune’s report coming on the heels of stagnating efforts in the states to impose anti-free market laws that restrict investment freedom and access to risk information, the news illustrates how the movement’s possibility of success is cratering.
Fortune: The alt-right economy is failing. Here’s the real performance of anti-woke entrepreneurs
Yet still, grandstanding political ideologues are using opportunistic attacks on iconic U.S. enterprises to showcase their own nascent anti-ESG businesses, and reportedly build a “parallel economy” catering to conservative constituencies. But far from flourishing, an objective review of the facts suggests these anti-wokester jokesters are financially foundering.
One little-known index fund provider, the American Conservative Values ETF (ACVF), recently received a flurry of media attention for boycotting Target over what they described as its “pandering to the woke agenda”...Target stock is down, but in reality, the fund’s total holdings of Target amount to just $100,000 – equivalent to the revenue that Target nets every 20 seconds…many of their other “boycotted” companies – including iconic All-American enterprises such as Apple, Microsoft, Delta Airlines, American Airlines, Disney, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Salesforce, and JPMorgan – have performed quite well since being targeted by ACVF.
ACVF’s struggles rather pale in comparison to those of its much larger and better-known rival, presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s Strive Asset Management…Unlike hedge funds, these ETF providers do not care if the stocks go up, down, or sideways–rather, they get their money from fees charged on anyone who has their money in a Strive ETF. Most ETFs are very low-fee products – but the anti-woke ETFs come at a premium. BlackRock ETFs, for example, usually charge around 0.03% fees. Strive’s fees are comparatively higher at up to 0.41% – but nothing compared to ACVF’s 0.75% fee.
All the evidence, out in the open, shows that Strive has had a hard time attracting additional investor inflows beyond its original anchor investors after the launch of its ETFs last year…its largest flagship ETF, the Strive US Energy ETF (DRLL), has almost exactly the same amount of assets under management (AUM) as of June 1, $320 million, that it did when it was launched in August/September 2022, and its AUM is down nearly 25% from the start of this year.
Even one of Strive’s biggest financial backers, Bill Ackman, is apparently embarrassed and rushing to disavow Ramaswamy. Meanwhile, Strive is reduced to seeking “consulting contract” handouts from friendly politicos. Perhaps this helps explain why Ramaswamy is running his longshot Presidential campaign: Nothing turns around sagging business fortunes quite like a new burst of free publicity!
It is not only in high finance that these “parallel economy” startups are flailing. Attempts to build a new alt-right media ecosystem are similarly landing with a thud…Donald Trump’s much-hyped Truth Social alt-platform has imploded in value, with its SPAC packaging (ticker DWAC) shares falling from $95 to $13 even as the former president flails away on this otherwise quiet platform.
Efforts to expand the alt-right parallel economy across digital services and even physical goods are running straight into the ground as well. Virtually all major retailers from Bed Bath & Beyond to Walmart to Kohl’s to Costco have cut ties with Mike Lindell’s MyPillow, which just months ago closed its last in-person retail mall store while losing $100 million, according to Lindell himself. Former Trump personnel director Johnny McEntee’s project–an alt-right dating site, “The Right Stuff”–has been lambasted even by its core constituency, with its mostly men frustrated by the lack of women users, and its seed funding from Peter Thiel is reportedly scheduled to run out in the next few months.
Strangely, the struggles of the nation’s regional banks, such as SVB, Signature, and First Republic, were superstitiously blamed on “wokeism” and the facts – that these less diversified banks were unprepared for the Fed’s interest rate hikes and that larger, equally “woke” banks were better insulated from these interest rate swings – were ignored.
Despite positioning themselves as reverent guardians of free markets against government and social overreach, many anti-wokester jokesters seem to have forgotten the most basic requirement of capitalism: to make a profit. Ironically, the free market delivers the most condemning verdict of all. The favorite “woke” targets of anti-ESG activists continue to soar to record economic heights, effortlessly shrugging off anti-woke attacks.
Clearly, despite all the hype and drama, there is little financial threat to mainstream business posed by the anti-woke economy. It’s not a genuine parallel economy–these are scattered cases of ideological grifters and struggling entrepreneurs. Their real talent seems to lie in fast-talking media platforms into giving them an undeserved platform to unfairly target iconic pillars of U.S. enterprise. But as these anti-wokester jokesters struggle to gain financial traction, the numbers will continue to disprove their claims.