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CEO Status Means Nothing: How Hype Men Are Killing The Concept Of Young Entrepreneurs

Discussion in 'BlackHat Lounge' started by Sherbert Hoover, May 12, 2017.

  1. Sherbert Hoover

    Sherbert Hoover Jr. Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    TL;DR: CEO Status Means Nothing: How Hype Men Are Killing The Concept Of Young Entrepreneurs

    Sherbs here, pissed and ready to rant.

    I recently did some reading into this flop show that was the Fyre Festival. I have never seen a public event crash and burn so badly before even truly starting. What kills me more is not the disaster of the festival itself, but how the blowback was handled by promoters and lead moron Billy McFarland, and how young hype men who think they are entrepreneurs are cropping up as number-inflating CEO's and destroying the concept and legitimacy of true young professionals in a wide array of fields.

    I am 26 years old. I have been dabbling in the Internet Marketing game since I was sixteen. For the past several years I have run a successful yet small reputation management firm. Recently I have built up and pivoted into branding and general marketing. For years I have had to deal with the issue of my age. Even with a proven track record of excellence and an eloquence of the written word such as what you are experiencing now, the age factor has been a deal breaker on numerous occasions. Hypocritically, though, if you ask my opinion as to whether or not a 26 year old has the capacity to create something as large-scale as the Fyre Festival, I would have told you the same thing from the get-go:

    Fuck no.

    Let's dig in a little. The Fyre Festival was a music festival scheduled to take place on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma over two weekends in April and May 2017. Organized by Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland as a luxury music festival to promote the Fyre music booking app, the event was promoted on Instagram by Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and other models. That was pulled from Wikipedia.

    First off, the festival was co-organized by MacFarland and beacon of good decisions Ja Rule. From my experience as an online reputation manager for some shady individuals in the past, you do not want to work with criminals. I repeat, you do NOT want to work with criminals.

    Quick quiz, do you want to work with criminals?

    Answer: No. Moving on.

    What about Billy MacFarland? William "Billy" McFarland (born 1991) is an American entrepreneur, as the founder and CEO of three companies: Spling, Magnises, and Fyre Media. McFarland organized the Fyre Festival to promote the Fyre music booking app.

    1991. So 25-26 years old. Already founder and CEO of three companies. A wannabe Elon Musk, but without the experience or credentials. CEO Sam, but whiter and with some startup capital and a strong sense of entitlement.

    "At the age of 13, he founded his first company, an online outsourcing business that matched clients with designers." No he didn't. The concept of young teenagers developing full-fledged businesses is a smoke-and-mirrors show in almost every situation. What likely happened is that Mommy and Daddy gave him a few bucks ("a small loan of a million dollars" -Trump) because he wanted to be a businessman. And he built a little site on whatever Blogspot options were available in 1998ish. Then connected one client to one designer and called it a business.

    Now let's examine these three current business ventures:

    Spling: "Digital Customer Acquisition and Optimization". Work page is five screenshots of random web design images with no explanation, and a contact button that leads to an email. There is also a TechCrunch article from 2011 about a $400k Series A funding. This news was announced by the 19-year old himself. The Bloomberg page for Spling lists the corporate address as 101 Knollwood Road Short Hills, NJ 07078 (not doxxing here, this is all public information). This $4 million house is owned by Steven and Irene McFarland, Billy's parents.

    And hey, he dropped out of college to pursue the above company. This concept rarely works out successfully. The success stories you see are due to survivorship bias. I've written this several times here. Survivorship bias. Add that to your vocabulary.

    Whether it be movie stars, or athletes, or musicians, or CEOs of multibillion-dollar corporations who dropped out of school, popular media often tells the story of the determined individual who pursues their dreams and beats the odds. There is much less focus on the many people that may be similarly skilled and determined but fail to ever find success because of factors beyond their control or other (seemingly) random events. This creates a false public perception that anyone can achieve great things if they have the ability and make the effort. The overwhelming majority of failures are not visible to the public eye, and only those who survive the selective pressures of their competitive environment are seen regularly.

    But if you build enough hype, and have enough networking potential, you can make a company seem like anything.

    Magnises: Google this company. Hype, hype, hype. It's easy to show the illusion of success if you position yourself correctly and build enough hype around your product. This Billy's been able to do well. It's the actual execution that fails to impress. Imagine an American Express Black Card, but run by a teenage dropout instead of a multi-billion dollar corporation, promising backstage access and VIP perks.

    Spin said it best: "The 20-something entrepreneur also founded Magnises, a kind of social club that originally aspired to be the American Express “black card” for millennials. New members paid a $450 entry fee for the privilege of carrying around a credit card-sized slab of shiny black metal in their wallets. But it wasn’t really a credit card: as the New York Times noted in a 2013 piece about Magnises, “It is just a way to dress up your everyday Wells Fargo or Bank of America card. Magnises simply transfers the data from the magnetic strip of that old card onto its blank metal card, like copying a CD, and then the Magnises card can be used in place of the original.” At some point along the way, Magnises nixed the black card idea in favor of an app, transitioned to a $250 annual fee, and got rid of an early provision that allowed members to sign up by referral only."

    From Billy's Wikipedia page: "McFarland claims that the company has received $3.1 million in venture capital to date and that it has 25 employees." With a reference to the article titled "Members of a private club for 'elite' millennials want their money back".

    Hype. Expected when the majority of your business model comes from ticket scalping and shady back-alley arrangements for entertainment.

    Things went sour for Magnises months before the Fyre Festival, yet since it was being promoted by Instagram models and people who could clearly be bought for a shoutout/promotion, their bandwagon ate it up like candy. Most followers would see a post by Emily Ratatouille and figure she's done her research, so won't bother to do their own. Little do they know that the 25-year old behind the scenes is utilizing the concept of publicly buying influence to try for his third-time's-a-charm venture.

    From the Fyre Festival Wikipedia page, here is a massive red flag:

    Comcast Ventures considered investing $25 million into the app, but declined days before the festival.

    When fucking Comcast pulls out of a deal, you know things are not what they are made out to be. Knowing the track record of Billy's former business ventures, the $25 million was likely already spent, as well as any other potential investments and seed funding, and this investment pull-out caused organization of the Fyre Festival to hit the emergency button.

    You can read for the rest of the bullshit here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fyre_Festival

    Cliff notes: The festival crashed and burned. There was a frantic effort to put things together into some form of a festival. Festival goers who arrived early showed up to find a complete and utter shit show. Those who planned to arrive on time were left stranded at the airport. Hype can only live for so long. Then you just turn into an asshole. Or as Ja Rule eloquently put it: it was NOT A SCAM" and "this is NOT MY FAULT". Oh, and it was recently leaked that Fyre employees will not be paid for the time put in.

    But don't worry, everything was explained by Billy: https://www.fyrefestival.com/. Cliffs: It was too popular for it's own good, so it will be bigger and better next year. Lesson learned? Fuck no.

    So why am I so salty about all of this? The concept of the young CEO is being tarnished by young affluent individuals like Billy whose parents tell them they can do anything, and then shove cash their way to get started without the proper training to get the job done.

    No concept of financial management. No advanced education completed. No proper customer service. Just a "you can do anything Billy" and then suddenly CEO status achieved without putting in any of the work.

    You aren't born on third base thinking you hit a triple. You don't get funded by some startup program for young entrepreneurs and get to throw the CEO tag on yourself. Shit, I have a client with a failing startup that has five employees. All C-level executives. He is the CEO with zero experience besides hype. Some guy who is a contributing author to a few online publications is the CMO. They paid some accountant a few grand once and consider him the CFO. It's all smoke and mirrors. A line on a resume with nothing to show except a few internally-written and not-proofread publications.

    I have several small businesses that do alright. The overarching company I throw everything into, I consider myself the CEO and founder. I am also 26. What is the difference? I have the conceptualization of "executive". My clients and customers take priority over my pockets. I under-hype and over-deliver, not over-hype and under-deliver. I am driven by customer satisfaction, not public recognition. But even I am re-thinking the CEO title to something different. Owner sounds nice.

    Billy is facing hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits due to the failure of the Fyre Festival. One of the most expensive lessons in not being able to put your money to work properly, and getting in way over your head. He will never be taken seriously again. Google searches for "Fyre Festival" and "fyre" are already destroyed. His company will dissolve to nothing in under six months, and all that will be left will be a one page vague website and a line on a LinkedIn profile. And this motherfucker deserves it. For being part of the many who have destroyed the concept of the young chief executive officer.

    There is no road to riches and fame on the Internet paved with gold. For $5,000 you can buy influence and press releases and make yourself out to be whatever you want to be. I know, because I've done this for my clients. CEO status is a joke in this day and age. Companies coming from nowhere, claiming the moon backed by nothing but their own words should be avoided at all costs. It's all hype. A 26 year old is not a qualified CEO. Few are. You aren't. I'm not. I've seen members here on BHW pull this same kind of shit on a smaller scale. Inflating numbers and concepts and acting as if business is golden, when the truth is far less impressive.

    Fly under the radar. Avoid scrutiny. Give yourself a title you deserve, not a title you want to be recognized as. Keep your customers happy. Grow. Expand. Pay your employees. Build a brand that stands for loyalty and delivers on what is promised. Then you are a CEO.

    Otherwise you're a small-time Billy McFarland.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. whiteogreguy

    whiteogreguy Registered Member

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    This should be stickied somewhere because, oh brother, there are some points made in this post that should be law.
     
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  3. Neon

    Neon Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Great thread Sherbs. It's becoming nowadays more of a new stereotype thing. It becomes harder and harder to find the difference between person A -> The guy, who has years experience in this field, education, etc. all built from 0 and really knows his stuff and
    person B ->
    aka. the typical gurutard, living the "fake it till you make it" lifestyle. These ppl are the cancers of business and marketing nowadays.
     
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  4. elavmunretea

    elavmunretea BANNED BANNED

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    I agree with that you're talking about with CEO's and people calling themselves things they're not, but I don't agree with this:

    It's currently exam season, here in England, and I honestly don't think I can count on one hand how many people have patronized the shit out of me, saying that these are "the most important exams I'll ever take and if I don't do well it'll fuck up my life."

    That's the kind of narrow-minded thinking that really annoys me.

    Qualifications mean shit.

    Any employer that genuinely believes that because someone has a Degree, Diploma, A-Level, whatever is more suited to a job (No matter what their qualification is) is not someone I would ever even considering working for.

    You can teach someone to pass a test, but you can't teach Intelligence.
     
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  5. I know SEO

    I know SEO Marketplace Mod Moderator

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    Exams/Education are not about what you learn or know... It's about proving your capable of learning.

    I don't know what you want to do later in life but lots of options are dependant on proving you are capable of sitting down, learning and grinding out results... Education does that.
     
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  6. MisterF

    MisterF Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    So Sherbs,

    How was Iceland? :D
     
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  7. Sherbert Hoover

    Sherbert Hoover Jr. Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    Fair enough. Situations such as what you mention fall perfectly into the survivorship bias concept, though. For the majority of people in your exams, if they don't do well it will fuck up their life. It's narrow-minded, but it's how the world works. There is no golden parachute of "I'm too intelligent for this". There are very few special snowflakes who have earned their keep at that age. You're clearly headed in the right direction, Harry, but you're beating on a far higher wavelength than the majority of your peers, I guarantee it.

    Be very careful finding employers who overlook things such as education and qualifications. You may end up working for someone like Billy, solidified on a mountain of hype and promises. Young minds are great, but young minds in executive positions without the experience and qualifications to provide leadership and loyalty without overextending is a different ball game.
     
  8. xSepps

    xSepps Newbie

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    This is a quality fucking post! WOW!
    This strikes a nerve on so many levels with me. I too am young and look the part as well, mid 20's with a baby face often leads to people not taking me seriously.

    Anyways, enough about me..
    The amount of times I've seen kids crash and burn with their parent's money has amazed me.. Obviously not on this scale, but locally where I live.
    What really grinds my gears are the kids who haven't even fucking registered their company yet and are calling themselves "CEO". Time and time again, I see kids posting it in their IG bio or facebook bio "CEO of BO$$ COUTURE apparel", only to realize that they've released maybe one or two t-shirts, one hoodie, and one embroidered hat..

    I dont hate on the entrepreneurial vibe or come up, but man do I fucking hate kids who abuse it and dont know the first thing about hard work and grinding, and put it in their bio to potentially impress someone or something..
     
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  9. MisterF

    MisterF Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Love it when guys in their mid 20s are calling out the kids in business.

    Fuck do I feel ancient at times.
     
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  10. elavmunretea

    elavmunretea BANNED BANNED

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    My point was that people don't care about the qualifications, they just care that you have them.

    Some of the exams I could sit without ever taking the course, yet I can still say "I have 20 GCSE's" and get an encore of "oooooo" from employers.

    Take Latin, Further Maths, Astronomy as examples. They're fucking hard.

    Then look at Health and Safety, IT (Literally marks for naming folders), Art, Wider Key Skills (GCSE in making cups of tea and tieing your shoe laces). You'd have to be really stupid to fail those.

    Who would you rather employ?

    10 years experience, no qualifications.
    A Degree in RE and a summer working in a bar trying to pay off their massive student loan.
     
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  11. I know SEO

    I know SEO Marketplace Mod Moderator

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    Your point is a good one, but what I said also goes along with what you said.

    If you do a degree in Geography, do you honest think you would get a job measuring rivers or whatever it is is they do? No...

    But you have proven that you can sit down and you're capable of learning a very complex and difficult subject which probably means you're bright and you can sit down and learn other subjects. You had the organisational skills to sit down complete your tasks on time to complete your degree and you had the discipline to sit down and force yourself to do hours and hours of reading about different kinds of sand or other nonsense that you will never need to know again...

    90% of what you learn at school will be useless unless it comes up in a pub quiz or something, but the proof that you're capable of learning will take you a long way.

    And you don't need education to prove that either, you can do it at work. But you're already in school so you may as well put it to some use while you're there?
     
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  12. Sherbert Hoover

    Sherbert Hoover Jr. Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    You are, brah. And I feel about the same. This shit wears people out.
     
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  13. Reaver

    Reaver Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I was talking to my mom about this when the story first broke. I told her "He tried to make money doing the bare minimum. He failed. Now he's going to be crucified in the court of public opinion."

    Sherbs, you make this guy seem like some kind of ego-inflated rich kid who flies airplanes and wants accolades for donating his hair to cancer. It's not that complicated. The solution is far more simple than that: he is a scammer.

    Look at his behavior. He is literally preying on how stupid people are. They want to feel exclusive. They want to feel special. They will spend money to do so.

    Making Ja Rule the front man for this was done on purpose. People don't care that he's a criminal. He's famous. That's all they care about. Having celebrities hype it up just drew in more people, which means more money in his pocket.

    It was put on an island in the Bahamas bc their laws on these situations are lax. Had it been in America or England, this never would have happened.

    He's just a stupid scammer Sherbs. Scammers make everyone look bad, not just you.

    Kids these days. :rolleyes:
     
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  14. Sherbert Hoover

    Sherbert Hoover Jr. Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    People like this exist?
     
  15. Reaver

    Reaver Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    I've heard rumors they do. I don't personally know anyone like this but there are billions of people in the world. I'm sure someone exactly like this exists somewhere in the world.
     
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  16. Sherbert Hoover

    Sherbert Hoover Jr. Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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    I am going to start reviewing every person. Watch for a stamp of approval.
     
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  17. MisterF

    MisterF Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    My partner showed my the photos on social media when this story broke, about people getting a fast book box with a cheese slice sandwich in as their fine dining experience, being dumped and left in their luxury hospitality ( crisis refugee tents ).

    The people who think of these scams invest time, effort and money to build up trust over the years, to get their brand known far and wide, yet claim it in an exclusive club and you need to be in there to be seen with the other cock wombles with egos who want to be part of the scene too.

    Same applies to investment / Ponzi schemes, they take time to plan etc, but once word is out about this shiny nw must have, people rush in blindly, so they don't miss out and can be seen to be at the forefront.

    As the saying goes about a fool and his money being easily parted, yes it's true but some can afford to lose tens of thousands, others this might have been their holiday of a lifetime.
     
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  18. Asif WILSON Khan

    Asif WILSON Khan Executive VIP Jr. VIP

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  19. Omirag

    Omirag Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Like butter on my brain tube baby

    But this is pretty typical. Everyone I meet is the next Elon musk.
     
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    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  20. Zwielicht

    Zwielicht Moderator Staff Member Moderator Jr. VIP

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