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Mahbod Moghadam, who rose to fame because the co-founder of Genius, has died


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,” based on a put up 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 TechCrunch 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 known as Rap Genius. Wrote Constine: “RIP to Mahbod. A posh, edgy, and at instances problematic man, but in addition genuinely humorous, good, and all the time distinctive.”

Moghadam was most just lately residing in Los Angeles, the place, after spending roughly 20 months with the enterprise agency Mucker Capital as an entrepreneur in residence, he was centered partly on determining schemes to assist creators receives a commission extra instantly for his or her work.

A type of current efforts was HellaDoge, a short-lived social media platform that provided to pay its customers dogecoin for contributing dogecoin-related content material for the advantage of the remainder of the platform’s customers. The ostensible concept was that, not like a Fb or Twitter, which generate advert income for themselves based mostly 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 a corporation known as Communistagram the place, he mentioned, “you’d join your Venmo and [as a creator] simply receives a commission for utilizing it,” slightly than depend on Spotify or YouTube to obtain fee.

Moghadam’s curiosity in how individuals can and may receives a commission dates again to 2009. After graduating from Yale after which Stanford Regulation College, he turned a lawyer simply because the economic system was crashing in 2008. In that very same interview from final 12 months, Moghadam mentioned 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 – Moghadam mentioned 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 appropriate customers who’d mangled them – together with the rapper Nas, who turned an advisor and considered one of its first buyers.

By the point that Rap Genius graced the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in Might 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 Moghadam additionally started attracting consideration to the annotation firm for belligerent conduct, 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 saved 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, Moghadam resigned on the urging of Lehman, who was the corporate’s CEO.

Moghadam 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.

Wanting again, Moghadam 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,” he mentioned throughout final 12 months’s interview with In accordance 2 Hip Hop.

Both approach, the corporate fell in need of its ambitions, failing to develop far past its core viewers of rap followers and unsuccessfully suing Google for copying and posting its lyrics on the prime of search outcomes to seize customers who would possibly in any other case have visited Genius.

In 2021, it offered for $80 million – lower than half it went on to lift from enterprise buyers – to a holding firm.

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

Moghadam additionally by no means forgave Lehman and was nonetheless making an attempt to sue the corporate as of final 12 months in an try and “squeeze some juice from this rock,” he mentioned in that interview final 12 months.

Slamming the brand new house owners of Genius, Moghadam had added that “a minimum of the [original] CEO [Lehman] straight up constructed Genius along with his personal two fingers. He’s a nerd. That’s the one benefit of him.”



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