There will be no payroll in the short term” – Billy McFarlandOn Friday, Billy McFarland, the 25-year-old founder of the disastrous Fyre Festival, told his shell-shocked employees that their paychecks covering the past two weeks would not be coming. Nor would he be firing them, a prerequisite for unemployment benefits in most states. Instead, McFarland offered to allow his dozen-or-so employees to stay on in unpaid roles, where they could work to grow the business to a place where they might get paid again.Rapper and Fyre Media co-founder Ja Rule was on the grim conference call, but his role was that of a listener.“I’m on the phone but I can barely hear you all because of this fu*king hum,” Ja Rule said.After conferring with our counsel and all financial people, unfortunately we are not able to proceed with payroll,” McFarland said. “We’re not firing anyone, we’re just letting you know that there will be no payroll in the short term.edited the audio to protect the identities of some of the participants.During the call, employees asked why they weren’t being fired so they could collect unemployment benefits. “If that impacts you, you can email me,” he McFarland said.“Do you have any record of us working for Fyre?” – Fyre employeeOne employee, who had been paid in cash, asked if there was any record of her being an employee at all. Payroll in the office abruptly stopped last October, after which time employees were paid by wire transfer or in cash, a former employee said.Repeatedly referring to future paychecks as “obligations,” McFarland said that although the company would not be able to fulfill those “obligations” going forward, he was committed to growing the booking platform for celebrity talent which Fyre Media was founded around.Should we be concerned about the FBI, Billy?” another asked. “That’s really more of an individual thing,” McFarland said, before offering to connect anyone contacted by the FBI to Fyre Media’s lawyers. The FBI declined to say whether it had opened an investigation into Fyre Media.Many of the Fyre Media employees hired to build the platform, including a team in Portland, were not involved in the festival or its planning. They were preparing to launch the app when the festival imploded April 27.Instead, most of the remaining Fyre Media employees quit en masse over the weekend and on Monday. Soon after, their access to their company email was shut off.
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