Who is Billy McFarland, the organizer of "The Lord of the Flies" nightmare that became the Fyre Festival?
Billy McFarland is the son of real-estate developers and grew up in the affluent suburbs of Short Hills, New Jersey. He started his first enterprise at the age of 13, offering a matching service for website and designers. A classmate Aaron Davis recalls a guy who was unable to curb his entrepreneurial spirit.
"When he talked to you, it kind of felt like he was trying to sell you something even if he wasn’t."
After dropping out of his first year in university, MacFarland founded Spling, a content-sharing website that raised $400,000 in funding. The website has since been abandoned.
In 2014, Billy founded a credit card company and private club called Magnises, which is Latin for absolutely nothing but according to MacFarland “sounds grand.” The card promised entry into hard-to-get-in-to shows, clubs, and events with the social elite for a $250 annual fee, but members told Business Insider the company often delivered tickets late, for the wrong date, or not at all. Three years after the launch, members were lining up for refunds.
After Magnises tanked, MacFarland met Ja Rule and both of them bonded over "mutual interest in technology, the ocean and rap music." They then came up with the idea of Fyre Festival, a music and food extravaganza that would take place on Exumas Island, the scenic island once owned by Mexican drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The festival was hyped by media influencers including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and a bevy of other super models.
Hey, Quick Question: What's Fyre Festival, and Why Are All the Models in the Bahamas Promoting It? - Fashionista https://t.co/doXl1EmOJd— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) December 14, 2016
The festival, as is common knowledge now, failed bigly. It was billed Coachella at the beach. The reality: tents weren't set up or were blowing over in the wind. There was no security and a lack of food and organization led to fights, reported fires and even a call for the U.S. embassy in the Bahamas to step in and help.
MacFarland had promised his customers "eco-friendly, geodesic domes", which were, as BuzzFeed News points out, apparently relief shelter tents used by the U.N.
The food was just as big a disappointment.
There are rumors that the company officials knew of all the kinks in their planning, but waited for them to straighten out themselves.
Ja Rule and MacFarland have already become one of the more long-lasting Twitter sensations.
Most of us only dream of putting the wealthy in a gulag, Comrade Ja has actually gone and done it #fyrefestival— netflix & phil ? (@PaleCompanion) April 28, 2017
MacFarland plans to hold a free beach-side concert for his customers in 2018, to make up for the Festival. $1 will be donated to the Bahamas Red Cross for each ticket sold.