|Inside the self-destruction of Pollen, the music startup once worth $800 million.
In seven years, Pollen raised more than $200 million from venture capitalists and worked with some of the biggest names in music, from Justin Bieber to 50 Cent.
As buzz grew around the startup, its founders, Callum and Liam Negus-Fancey, saw an opportunity not only to change the way people experienced the entertainment industry, but to join the ranks of the tech elite. Investors came flocking, cash poured in, and they adopted the persona of high-flying, high-rolling executives.
But in the startup world, faking it until you make it can have disastrous results.
Pollen’s parent company, StreetTeam Software Limited, has gone bankrupt. About 430 employees were let go without their final paychecks. As of July 20, Pollen and its subsidiaries owed customers $8 million in refunds, according to an internal spreadsheet obtained by Insider.
But according to 31 former Pollen employees who spoke with Insider, the company’s implosion was years in the making. Many said the brothers ran Pollen a little too much like they ran their festivals: Drugs were often present, and heavy drinking and partying seemed to be part of the job description.