Trump Store’s Online Return Was Aided by Apollo-Controlled Firm
(Bloomberg) -- Rackspace Technology Inc., a company majority-controlled by Apollo Global Management LLC, helped to get the Trump Organization’s online store back up and running again about a week after Shopify Inc. cut ties.
Rackspace was hosting TrumpStore.com, which sells Trump-branded apparel and gifts like $30 Trump hats and $18 gold bar playing cards, as of Jan. 15, according to public internet records compiled by RiskIQ, a cybersecurity company that maps web traffic. BuiltWith, a tech company that tracks which services websites use, also determined some photos from the Trump store website were hosted by Rackspace.
Another company, CraftCMS, has been providing basic e-commerce services including web design since Jan. 17. The two services appear to have filled the gap Shopify left in early January that made the Trump Store’s site briefly unusable, underscoring ways that online platforms shunned by one vendor can keep businesses alive using alternatives.
Shopify’s announcement that it would no longer work with Donald Trump was part of a broader corporate exodus following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Trump also lost business contracts with New York City, was abandoned by lenders including Deutsche Bank AG, shunned by the PGA of America that canceled a golf tournament at one of his clubs and booted off social media. That came as his businesses are being hit hard by coronavirus closures, with revenue from his Washington and Las Vegas hotels down by more than half.
Rackspace declined to comment on whether it works with the Trump Store and a spokeswoman for New York-based Apollo said the company isn’t involved in the day to day operations of Windcrest, Texas-based Rackspace. CraftCMS and the Trump Organization didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Rackspace’s hosting relationship on the Trump site appears to be masked by the use of Cloudflare Inc.’s popular DDoS protection service, according to RiskIQ. Cloudflare offers a type of cybersecurity protection against distributed denial of service attacks, when a massive amount of junk traffic is directed at a server to disrupt service. One of Cloudflare’s protection tools includes the obfuscation of the website’s hosting agent. Cloudflare declined to comment on whether it was working with the Trump Organization.
BuiltWith also determined that TrumpStore is working with Stripe Inc. to process payments on the website. Stripe stopped processing payments for the Trump campaign following the events at the U.S. Capitol, but the company never said it wouldn’t work with the former president’s other businesses, like TrumpStore.com. Stripe declined to comment further on its role with Trump.
The Trump online store is a small part of the former president’s business empire, which is largely made up of real estate. The store brought in $1.96 million in 2020 and the first 20 days of 2021, according to Trump’s final financial disclosure form as president. While the store was down, shoppers couldn’t view items for sale. Clicking on anything on the page would loop visitors back to the same page. At one point, the organization put up an email address, requesting shoppers send an email to order products.
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