Billy McFarland – a controversial entrepreneur best known as the man behind the infamous Fyre Festival disaster – has opened up about his plans to pay off $26million (£22.7million) in restitution owed to those he defrauded.
McFarland was profiled by The New York Times this week, having completed his stint on house arrest earlier this month. It comes after he was moved from prison to a halfway house in March, being released from his six-year federal prison sentence more than two years early (he was formally sentenced in October of 2018). In the piece, McFarland details his wish to make a comeback as an entrepreneur, telling the Times that he’d “like to do something tech-based”.
Addressing his fraught reputation in the wake of the Fyre Festival – the events of which infamously transpired in April and May of 2017 – McFarland said: “The good thing with tech is that people are so forward-thinking, and they’re more apt at taking risk. If I worked in finance, I think it would be harder to get back. Tech is more open. And the way I failed is totally wrong, but in a certain sense, failure is OK in entrepreneurship.”
By the terms of his plea deal, McFarland is permanently barred from working in the role of a director for a public company. Regardless, he appears to see a new company of his own on the cards: “At the end of the day, I think I could probably create the most value by building some sort of tech product,” he told the Times. “Whether that’s within a company or by starting my own company, I’m open to both. I’ll probably decide in the next couple of weeks which path to go do.”
At one point, McFarland was working on a memoir, however that’s been shelved because “the book’s not going to pay the restitution”. He also noted that he’s “not particularly interested in crypto[currency]” – though his Fyre partner Ja Rule is, having sold NFTs of an oil painting of its logo and the infamous cheese sandwich tweet – unless he’s able to utilise the blockchain for endeavours that would lead to positive societal change.
McFarland expressed interest in decentralised autonomous organizations, which he said were “allowing people to come together online to effect real world change in a way they previously couldn’t, taking people to places they couldn’t get to – and, once they’re there, enabling them to effect real-world change”.
While in prison, McFarland launched Dumpster Fyre, a podcast that saw him “share everything that happened” regarding the notorious festival (and admit, for the first time, that he lied to its investors). It was reported that 100 per cent of his profits from the podcast will go towards paying off his restitution; McFarland was placed in solitary confinement after the podcast was released.
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