Pitching Cash into the Fyre
“Baby, I’m not always there when you call, but I’m always on time”- Ja Rule
Odds are by now you have heard of the debacle of the Fyre Festival. In case you haven’t let’s recap, shall we?
Aimed at the affluent millennial aged festival goer with money to burn, and an appreciation for both luxury and the bragging rights that go with it organizers Billy McFarland, founder of Magnises and Spling along with his cofounder 3 time Grammy nominee and investor Ja Rule decided they needed to launch a festival. Not just the usual music festival consisting of gathering thousands of people together with music and dubious bathrooms, no this was to be grand. How grand? It was billed as “The unparalleled best in music, cuisine, design & hospitality on a private island” purportedly owned at one time by Pablo Escobar (surprise, it wasn’t) on their Facebook page. Long story short, that isn’t how it turned out.
The jury hasn’t decided yet, quite literally, whether this is just a case of novice founders getting caught up in their own bravado and hype only to be dashed on the reef and pulverized like so much finely ground sand upon a gorgeous beach, or whether our two organizers are predatory sharks circling a tropical island claiming victims. McFarland has gained through this experience the sobriquet of being called both the “Wolf of Wall Street for the selfie set” and “Gatsby run through an Instagram filter” by the NY Times while his steadfast partner Ja Rule has been finding optimism post debacle in the free press generated. As Ja put it “The whole world knows Fyre’s name now”, so there is that as far as marketing goes. After spending a quarter of a million on getting Kendall Jenner to post a single Instagram mention this outlook on how to market the next one, and yes a next one is being talked about, is almost frugal (as long as the pending lawsuits don’t wipe them out before then). Criminality, blame and the fallout for it all will have to be decided in the many lawsuits being filed, there are currently at least a dozen including one seeking class-action status and $100 Million, filed by celebrity lawyer Mark J. Geragos.
Long before the event catastrophe occurred though, back in the wonder moments when everything seemed bright still there were signs that something could….might….okay most likely would go awry. Vanity Fair posted the pitch deck for the festival and it reveals more than a little insight into the mindset of this team. Let’s start off by saying these kind words, if they had proportionately as many happy festival goers beyond what was needed as they did excess pages in this pitch then they would’ve been crowned kings of the known universe and school children would learn about the Fyre Fest annually. This thing is 43 pages people, 43 pages meant to introduce and create interest while providing clarity on the money making potential of their offering. Do any of those 43 pages outline a strong plan? I’ll give you a guess on that one.
(See what goes into doing it right at: How To Build A Winning Pitch Deck)
Their opening proposition is that Fyre “defines how we engage audiences, consume media and share content”. Okay that’s a bold proposition how they gonna do that you might ask. Well page 6 of the slide lets you know they’re going to make it easier to book your favorite artist live. Imagine that? One platform where you can book and pay for models, musicians, athletes and influencers because apparently the various representatives and talent agencies that have been part of the business till now did not let you pay easily. Three pages on they are still explaining how payments will be easier to make thanks to them, I have no idea how yet in reading this but for sure this is priority one and they will make it easy to give money over.
Page 11 is where they really start to deliver, ok by deliver I mean offer the next bold promise that is going to fulfill the previous promise of the last ten pages of greatness. Yes 11 pages in is where they unveil the Fyre festival that will launch, captivate and begin the bold new dynasty of Fyre-y glory for all things Fyre. This may or may not be accomplished through slick graphics collaging blissed out swimmers, bikini models and palm trees accompanied by pithy slogans in multicolored fonts.
Four more pages of inspiring quotes that may be pillow crochet worthy later they explain that there is a five year plan for the festival, which in turn will build the brand which will take over the world, the plan is that for these five years they will bring life to a new region each year and livelihood to the land. So basically investors are being pitched on the idea of eco-conscious, model laden, envy hopping trips over five years to promote an app, or something, on a beach. I don’t want to say that this whole experience indicates we may be jumping the shark in using jargon these days rather than building actual plans but if I was going to say it I would do so as I imagined Ja singing “put it on me baby“.