Flickr/Kurt Bauschardt

Company Behind Disastrous Fyre Festival Warned Staff Not to Come

The festival is now a scene from 'Lord of the Flies.'

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Apr 28 2017, 9:00pm

Flickr/Kurt Bauschardt

Fyre Festival, a music festival run by a startup called Fyre and Ja Rule, is an unmitigated disaster. The festival was marketed as a luxury experience on a private island in the Bahamas, but attendees arrived to find a scene out of Mad Max. Luggage was thrown out of the back of a truck, there were only tents to sleep in, and the "gourmet" food turned out to be extremely sad cheese sandwiches.

The truly deplorable conditions at Fyre Festival have led many to wonder if the eponymous startup—which is creating a talent booking app that's still months away from release—knew what was going to happen. According to a Fyre employee who spoke to Motherboard under the condition of anonymity, key company employees were warned to stay away from the festival.

Employees were flown from New York City to Miami. From there, they were supposed to fly to the Bahamas, but never did.

"On Thursday, I got a call from a girl that was just hired recently," the source said. "We're all getting ready to go to the Bahamas, and one of these new girls calls me on my cell phone and says, 'Hey, don't even bother, there's no accommodations for you guys and you'll be in a bad situation.' So, we didn't even go to the Bahamas, we just stayed in Miami."

According to the source, employees were told to stay in Miami and eventually bought their own tickets back home.

Read More: My Year in San Francisco's $2 Million Secret Society Startup

The Fyre festival was meant to be a way to promote the app, which is still in development, the source said. The months leading up to the festival were filled with signs that the festival, and the company, were in dire straits. For example, new hires were not given company laptops to do their work on, and instead had to use their own devices. Pay was sometimes irregular, but eventually came through, the source said.

"To me, it seemed like they were having financial issues," the source said.

Now, the future of Fyre and their unfinished celebrity booking app is uncertain. According to the source, the only communication from management to staff about the disaster was a terse email from CEO Billy McFarland, which was shared with Motherboard.

"We all feel, on the product side, that everything to do with the festival just destroyed the product we've been working on very hard and is almost finished," the source said. "Morale is very low. We're in this limbo state, like, hey, is this company even going to survive this?"

Motherboard reached out to Fyre CEO Billy McFarland, detailing the anonymous employee's allegations, and requested an interview. We will update this post if we hear back. 

With Fyre Festival devolving into a scene from Lord of the Flies, it seems like the company is starting to do the same.

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