For the last four or five days, your Twitter timeline has no doubt been inundated with the nightmare situation known as Fyre Festival, which went from being a $12,000-a-pop music festival for the rich, white elite to what looked like a disaster recovery situation (with actual disaster relief tents). In the fallout, it's been announced that Ja Rule and the squad behind the Fyre Festival is being hit with a $100 million class action lawsuit for their gross fuck up.
While it's been easy to chuck "Ja Rule The Scammer" tweets out there, it might be time to look at one of the other "names" on the Fyre Festival lawsuit; Billy McFarland. At 25, dude's already had his name affixed to a number of companies, primarily with an emphasis on millennials who want the finer things in life. He's one of those entrepreneurial guys who always seems to have a plan, and can apparently talk his way into a pile of money without truly delivering on his promises. A.k.a. the American way. Here's a look at Billy McFarland's pre-Fyre highlights.
McFarland's always been a businessman
When you were 13, you probably were trying to bag shorty in your math class; yung McFarland was already building his first startup, which apparently outsourced design work. A few years later, he was already dropping out of Bucknell University to found Spling, which at the time was another addition to the social networking space that secured $400,000 in funding back in 2011.
Neither of these startups caused as much havoc as his 2014 startup Magnises, which found McFarland creating his own black card (which after turned into an app, Magnises NOW) for millennials who were trying to get their IRL social status game up. It sounds dope, but apparently, you had to promise to spend $250,000 a year through the card (with a $250 annual fee) to get the Magnises perks like 24/7 concierge service, special treatment and discounts from elite brands and restaurants, and invites to exclusive events.
At the time, McFarland told Bloomberg that Magnises "enhances and really improves your everyday life in the city," but in January of 2017, Business Insider reported that cardholders felt scammed, saying that the perks that Magnises promised (which included everything from Hamilton tickets to SR-22 plane rides to the Hamptons) were not being met. At the time, McFarland said Magnises "hit some roadblocks along the way, and that's what happens when you grow really quickly, and that's on me." But McFarland's troubles weren't focused solely on Magnises' troubles.
McFarland trashed his $13,000-a-month West Village home
It's a given that when most young guys secure a bag, they might go ham with their earnings. According to the New York Post, in 2013 McFarland had a 500-person birthday party for photographer/socialite Patrick McMullan at his $13,750-a-month duplex on Greenwich Ave. This was one of many "blowout parties" that the landlord said caused roughly $62,000 worth of damage to the spot. At the time, the owner was looking for McFarland to pony up $100,000 in damages, but McFarland said the charges were "not valid."
WTF is Fyre Media?
That's hard to say; according to LinkedIn, Fyre Media, Inc. was founded in 2015 is "an on demand service that makes booking the most influential celebrities, artists, athletes, models, and entertainers seamless and transparent." They have an app, and it looks like some of their "exclusive" artists feature Fat Joe, Waka Flocka, Soulja Boy, Jim Jones, and Ja Rule. Rule, who has been listed as a co-founder of Fyre, is reportedly the "mastermind" behind the Fyre Festival, which McFarland was touting as a "luxury music festival" that was due to span two weekends (April 28-30, 2017 and May 5-7, 2017) in the Bahamas.
Aside from the musical acts, which were to include everyone from G.O.O.D. Music and Blink-182 to Disclosure and Lil Yachty, Fyre Festival was reportedly set to have $1 million worth of "hidden treasures" that would be found all over the island. It was also set to feature all kinds of rich, elite millennials attending, paying upwards of $12,000-a-pop to experience the music, art installations, talks, amazing food, and much more while chilling on the sands of Fyre Cay in the Bahamas.
As we now know, what the people got when they hit the island was the exact opposite of a "luxury music festival" experience, a day which McFarland told Rolling Stone was "definitely the toughest day" of his short, intriguing, possibly scam-filled life. It doesn't help that the festival appeared to be doomed from the start, with everything from "a rampant shark problem" and sandflies to the fucking FEMA tents and not having a stage(?!) setup revealed that Fyre was the dumpster fire it turned out to be from the rip.
McFarland also told Rolling Stone that "there will be make-up dates, May 2018 in the U.S., free for everybody who signed up for this festival," although at this point, with his cache (and the social media shitstorm that followed the Fyre Festival) and that $100 million lawsuit looming over his head, what masochist would want to subject themselves to Fyre Festival, The Sequel?
Maybe McFarland needs to do what he does best: find new ways to rope money-hungry millennials into giving him more of their cheddar.