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Fyre Festival

Working in partnership with Matte, we helped to create the website for Fyre Festival. Built responsively, with a third party ticketing integration, the website was built to withstand the millions of hits generated by influencer and media promotion.

We initially hesitated to share this case study – it took us two years to decide. The FYRE Festival saga captivated not just investors and attendees but also us, the partners involved. Ultimately, from those stranded with unsatisfactory meals on a remote island to businesses writing off unpaid invoices, it was a situation where losses were widespread, including for us, the storytellers of this tale.

While we might remove this case study in the future, for now, we're focusing on the technical aspects: how we developed the website and the infrastructure designed to handle the immense traffic surge driven by celebrity influencers and global media attention.

For those unfamiliar with the FYRE Festival debacle, a Netflix documentary offers detailed insights.

Expecting over a million visitors per hour post-launch, we needed a robust technical solution. Many clients overestimate traffic, but FYRE lived up to its predictions. We chose Amazon Web Services for its capacity to handle intense traffic. The static nature of the site meant our first strategy involved extensive caching, using CloudFront to distribute content globally, ensuring quick load times. However, the festival's high-profile nature demanded HD, full-screen video, which presented additional challenges.

Our infrastructure, hosted in AWS's US-EAST-1 region, used Elastic Load Balancers to distribute traffic across multiple EC2 web server instances. These instances, connected to a Multi-AZ database cluster, auto-scaled with increasing load. Images were delivered through CloudFront CDN, sourced from Amazon's S3 data storage.

Ticket processing and payments were managed through a third-party platform, integrated via an API. This required frequent updates and cache purges to reflect ticket availability and other changes.

Upon launch, the FYRE website attracted over 6 million visitors in the first three hours, operating seamlessly without any downtime.

This case serves as a testament to our capabilities in managing high-traffic events online, comparable to renowned festivals like Glastonbury or Coachella.

The FYRE Festival, conceived by Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule as a promotional tool for the Fyre app, was planned for April and May 2017 in the Bahamas. It gained massive attention through influencer promotions on Instagram. However, it infamously failed due to numerous logistical issues, leading to its cancellation and leaving attendees with far less than promised.

Billy McFarland faced legal consequences for wire fraud, resulting in a six-year prison sentence and a $26 million forfeiture. The fiasco led to multiple lawsuits and was covered in documentaries by Hulu and Netflix. Interestingly, in April 2023, McFarland hinted at a potential second FYRE Festival in a tweet.

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