Two British tech entrepreneurs who led $800 million events and travel startups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on drug and alcohol fueled parties and managed a sexually harassed “boy sack” culture before the company imploded, according to a report.
Callum Negus-Fancey, 32, and his brother, Liam, 29, founded Verve, a company that combined music festival tickets with stays at luxury resorts that have included concerts by VIPs like Justin Bieber, 50 Cent, and Scooter Bran. The company name was later changed to Pollen.
Pollen, which was based in the UK but had an extensive presence in the US and Poland, has raised more than $200 million from venture capital firms. I filed for bankruptcy in August.
Former employees of the company told the Insider news site that the brothers spent huge sums on massive parties that included extensive alcohol use as well as consumption of drugs such as ecstasy, acid, cocaine, ketamine and mushrooms.
“It was harder not to find the drugs than to find them,” a former Pollen employee told Insider.
In May 2019, the two brothers staged a five-day glam festival filled with acrobatic dancers, DJs, and shapeshifters at a campground in Mendocino County, California.
The event, which was to celebrate an infusion of $30 million in venture capital funding, cost the company $500,000, according to Insider.
Pollen executives instilled a party culture within the company, where it was typical for employees to take shots of hard liquor during work hours, former employees told Insider.
“I just remember getting into the office at 10 a.m. and taking pictures, and it was like Tuesday,” a former employee told Insider. During his second week at the company, the employee said, he was asked to embark on a day-long scavenger hunt.
Another woman Pauline hired when she was 20 said she got a mimosa on her first day on the job at the company’s Los Angeles office.
“I would call it frat, but it’s a job,” she said.
And at 20, that was cool because I was like, ‘Oh my God, first job out of college, it’s just a party. “
The Post has requested comment from Pollen. A company representative told Insider that only those of legal drinking age get access to alcohol.
Former employees also alleged that during the retreats they engaged in “speed-dating” games where the employees asked each other sexually explicit questions, including: “Of the people in this room, he is most likely to sleep with three other people in this room at some point.” of their careers?”
Another flash card used during the game included the question: “Would you rather be a virgin forever or have sex with your brother once to break the curse?”
Former employees told Insider that while participation in these “games” was optional, they felt as though they were required to participate in them.
A former employee said, “If you don’t deal with it or laugh about it, then you’re seen as not being funny and not participating.”
Former employees also told Insider that Pollen will rent out karaoke bars and ice rinks for so-called “lock-in” parties.
Employees viewed “lock-ups”, ostensibly team bonding experiences, as an excuse to “eliminate it completely”.
In the aftermath of parties in Los Angeles-area residences, cocaine was passed freely – a claim denied by the company.
At a closed party in September 2018, Callum allegedly poured whiskey into employees’ drinks without being asked. One of those employees was a 20-year-old woman.
The 20-year-old was so drunk that she nearly passed out and was unable to keep her head up or her eyes open, according to Insider, which cited witnesses.
A company spokesperson denied to Insider that Callum gave alcohol to unsuspecting employees and that the company always made sure to serve alcohol to those of legal drinking age.
Another former employee told Insider she was afraid to look away from her drink for fear Callum would spike with more alcohol.
In April 2018, a former employee alleged that Liam slid his hand down her back and over her buttocks at a Las Vegas venue rented to celebrate the company’s $25 million acquisition of JusCollege, a company that sold travel packages to college students.
A company representative told Insider that the claim is “totally untrue.”
Earlier this year, Pollen’s parent company, Streetteam Software Limited, declared the company insolvent.
“Despite strong growth since the inception of Streetteam Software Ltd. eight years ago, the spillover effects of COVID-19 over the past two years, which devastated a large part of the travel sector, coupled with the collapse of tech stocks and current consumer uncertainty in light of the circumstances The global economy, is putting severe pressure on the business while it is at a critical stage of expansion maturity,” the company said.
Just months ago, Bolen announced a $150 million fund-raising round from venture capital firms like Northzone and Lansdowne Partners.
But that wasn’t enough to overcome last year’s operating losses.
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