According to a study, two British IT entrepreneurs who led an events and travel venture worth up to $800 million spent tens of thousands of dollars on drug- and alcohol-fueled parties and fostered a “frat boy” culture riddled with sexual harassment before the company imploded.
Callum Negus-Fancey, 32, and his 29-year-old brother, Liam, created Verve, a company that combined music festival tickets with stays at luxury resorts and featured concerts by stars such Justin Bieber, 50 Cent, and Scooter Bran. The company then changed its name to Pollen.
Pollen, a United Kingdom-based company with a significant presence in the United States and Poland, raised over $200 million from venture capital firms. In August, it filed for bankruptcy.
Ex-employees of the company told the news website Insider that the brothers lavishly spent money on parties that included widespread usage of alcohol and substances such as Ecstasy, LSD, cocaine, ketamine, and mushrooms.
“It was more difficult to not locate drugs than to find them,” a former employee of Pollen told Insider.
In May of 2019, the two brothers hosted a five-day glamping event in Mendocino County, California, complete with acrobatic dancers, DJs, and contortionists.
According to Insider, the event, which meant to celebrate a $30 million injection of venture capital money, cost the company $500,000.
Former employees told Insider that Pollen management developed a party culture within the company, where it was common for employees to drink shots of hard liquor during work hours.
A former employee told Insider, “I remember arriving to the workplace around 10 a.m. and drinking shots, and it was a Tuesday.” The employee reported that he was instructed to participate in a daylong scavenger search during his second week with the organisation.
Another woman who was employed by Pollen at the age of 20 stated that she was served mimosas on her first day of work in the Los Angeles office.
She stated, “I would compare it to a fraternity, but as a job.”
“And at the age of twenty, I thought, ‘Oh my god, my first job out of college, it’s a party!'”
The Post has reached out to Pollen for comment. A firm representative told Insider that alcohol was exclusively supplied to persons of legal drinking age.
During retreats, former workers allegedly participated in “speed dating” activities in which personnel asked each other sexually explicit questions, such as “Who do you think is most likely to sleep with three other people in this room at some time in their careers?”
Another flash card used during the game asked, “Would you rather be a virgin for life or have one sex with your sibling to break the curse?”
Ex-employees told Insider that even though participation in these “games” was voluntary, they felt compelled to do so.
An ex-employee remarked, “If you didn’t connect with it or joke about it, you were perceived as unfun and uninvolved.”
Ex-employees told Insider that Pollen rented karaoke bars and roller skating rinks for “lock-in” events.
Employees viewed the “lock-ins,” which were nominally team-building exercises, as an excuse to “become utterly wasted.”
Cocaine was widely distributed at after-parties in Los Angeles-area households, a claim the corporation refuted.
At a September 2018 lock-in party, Callum allegedly put alcohol into employees’ cups without their permission. One of these employees was a lady in her twenties.
According to Insider, which cited witnesses, the 20-year-old was so inebriated that she nearly passed out and was unable to keep her head up or eyes open.
A firm representative disputed to Insider that Callum provided booze to unsuspecting employees and stated that the company always served alcohol only to people of legal drinking age.
Another former employee told Insider that she feared Callum might spike her drink with extra booze if she looked away from it.
A former employee stated in April 2018 that Liam slid his hand down her lower back and across her buttocks at a Las Vegas venue booked to commemorate the company’s $25 million acquisition of JusCollege, a company that provided travel packages to college students.
A firm representative told Insider that the claim was “absolutely false.”
The parent business of Pollen, Streetteam Software Limited, revealed the company’s insolvency earlier this year.