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Mahbod Moghadam, who rose to fame as the co-founder of Genius, has died | Prime Time News24

Mahbod Moghadam, the controversial, never-boring co-founder of Genius and Everipedia, in addition to an angel investor, handed away final month at age 41 owing to “problems from a recurring mind tumor,” in accordance with a publish attributed to his household and revealed on Genius.

The startup world seems to have caught wind of his passing simply this weekend, with quite a few tributes bobbing up on the X platform, together with by former Prime Time News24 writer-turned-investor Josh Constine, who as soon as interviewed Moghadam and his founders at Genius when the corporate was nonetheless in its relative infancy and referred to as Rap Genius. Wrote Constine: “RIP to Mahbod. A posh, edgy, and at occasions problematic man, but additionally genuinely humorous, good, and always unique.”

Moghadam was most not too long ago dwelling in Los Angeles, the place, after spending roughly 20 months with the enterprise agency Mucker Capital as an entrepreneur in residence, he was centered partially on determining schemes to assist creators receives a commission extra instantly for his or her work.

A kind of latest efforts was HellaDoge, a short-lived social media platform that supplied to pay its customers dogecoin for contributing dogecoin-related content material for the good thing about the remainder of the platform’s customers. The ostensible concept was that, not like a Fb or Twitter, which generate advert income for themselves primarily based on the engagement of their customers, HellaDoge’s customers would profit instantly from their participation.

In an interview 11 months in the past with the net media outfit “In accordance 2 Hip Hop,” Moghadam talked a couple of related concept for an organization referred to as Communistagram the place, he stated, “you’d join your Venmo and [as a creator] simply receives a commission for utilizing it,” fairly than depend on Spotify or YouTube to obtain fee.

Moghadam’s curiosity in how individuals can and will receives a commission dates again to 2009. After graduating from Yale after which Stanford Legislation College, he grew to become a lawyer simply because the financial system was crashing in 2008. In that very same interview from final yr, Modhadam stated he was “simply, like, tiptoeing” across the places of work of the regulation agency the place he landed his first job –  Dewey & LeBoeuf  – and praying he wouldn’t be fired. 

When the inevitable occurred – Modhadam stated the regulation agency “ended up principally simply giving us some cash to go away” – he used the cash to co-found Rap Genius with two of his Yale associates: Ilan Zechory and Tom Lehman.

Initially, the location invited customers to annotate and clarify hip-hop lyrics, finally changing into so well-known that rappers gravitated to the platform to clarify their very own lyrics – in addition to to right customers who’d mangled them – together with the rapper Nas, who grew to become an advisor and one in all its first traders.

By the point that Rap Genius graced the stage at Prime Time News24 Disrupt in Could 2013, the three had landed funding from Andreessen Horowitz and have been on the verge of rebranding Rap Genius as Genius and increasing its remit.

However Modhadam additionally started attracting consideration to the annotation firm for belligerent habits, each private and non-private. In November 2013, he attributed his poor conduct to a fetal benign mind tumor that was eliminated in emergency surgical procedure. He stored pushing the envelope, nonetheless. Certainly, in 2014, after posting tasteless feedback as annotations after a mass assassin’s manifesto was posted to Genius’s platform, Modhadam resigned on the urging of Lehman, who was the corporate’s CEO.

Modhadam later co-founded Everipedia, a now-defunct decentralized, blockchain-based encyclopedia that allowed customers to create pages on any matter so long as the content material was impartial and it was cited. Because it was winding down, he joined Mucker Capital.

Trying again, Modhadam expressed dismay that Genius contributors weren’t paid for serving to to construct out the platform. “The one purpose Genius can get by with doing slave labor for lyrics is as a result of individuals love music a lot,” throughout final yr’s interview with In accordance 2 Hip Hop. “These youngsters are prepared to [annotate] the brand new 21 Savage or whoever they’re obsessive about without cost.

Certainly, although Modhadam by no means reached the identical heights professionally as in the course of the early days of Genius, he remained extremely regarded by lots of Genius’s most ardent followers, showing on quite a lot of podcasts the place enthusiastic hosts fawned over him.

The corporate itself fell in need of its ambitions, unsuccessfully suing Google for copying and posting its lyrics on the high of search outcomes to seize customers who would possibly in any other case have visited Genius. In 2021, it bought for $80 million – lower than half it went on to boost from enterprise traders – to a holding firm.

Modhadam additionally by no means forgave Lehman and was nonetheless making an attempt to sue the corporate as of final yr in an try to “squeeze some juice from this rock,” he stated in that podcast.

Slamming the brand new homeowners of Genius final yr, Modhadam added that at “not less than the [original] CEO [Lehman] straight up constructed Genius along with his personal two fingers. He’s a nerd. That’s the one advantage of him.”




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