Comcast Ventures almost plunged $25M into Fyre Media days before festival debacle

The Fyre Festival was perhaps the biggest music-festival debacle since Altamont. (Photo courtesy of Jake Strang)

Comcast Ventures narrowly missed having the stink of the Fyre Festival rub off on it.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the cable giant venture capital arm came close to investing as much as $25 million into Fyre Media Inc. before the startup produced what was perhaps the biggest music-festival debacle since Altamont

In the days leading up to the failed event, Comcast Ventures decided against investing in Fyre, when a due-diligence review determined that the company lacked the technical capabilities needed to pull off its product.

“Comcast Ventures, like many other investors, considered an investment in Fyre’s marketplace business," the VC said in a statement to FierceCable. "After conducting thorough due diligence, we were unsatisfied with the results and passed on the investment, as we do with thousands of companies each year.  Any indication that we invested in Fyre is completely false.”

The VC also concluded that Fyre’s big branding event on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma would likely fail.

And boy, did it ever fail.

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The Fyre Festival originally booked music acts Blink 182, Tyga, Pusha T and Major Lazer, billing itself as an ultraexclusive, supermodel-laden getaway to a tropical beach setting. But the island lacked the basic infrastructure needed for a luxury event that charged some attendees as much as five figures for VIP tickets.

Attendees complained about a poorly constructed tent city, full of poor lighting, sanitation and food. When the event was cancelled on the first day, some attendees were left stranded in the immediate aftermath. A number of class-action suits have already been filed, including one in Los Angeles that’s seeking $100 million in damages. 

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism noted that the organizers were “in over their heads.”

So who are these organizers who nearly received $25 million from Comcast?

Fyre Media, headed by Bucknell University dropout William McFarland, had billed itself as an “on-demand service that makes booking the most influential celebrities seamless and transparent.”