genius dispatch

Response to Michael Brown Shooting Proves the Internet Is More Powerful Than Police

mahbod moghadam genius dispatch

How is the Michael Brown case different from Trayvon Martin? Superficially, the cases are quite similar, so why is the outcry – in Ferguson and on the internet – more amplified this time around?

The difference is that the Internet has become a far more powerful tool for social change in the past two years. While there is no video of Michael Brown being shot, the story is the climax of a series of instances of police brutality that have been caught on film thanks to ubiquitous iPhones. Read More

genius dispatch

Disputed Monkey Pics Do Not Belong in the Public Domain

Screen shot 2014-08-06 at 5.51.50 PM

So, imagine you are a photographer and you are taking some cute monkey pics. Suddenly, the monkey takes your camera away and – rather than getting perturbed – you allow the monkey to do his thing, takes some selfies. You finally get your camera back and go home to develop the footage, and it turns out to be really cute! (see above)

Now imagine that Wikipedia tells you that the photo doesn’t belong to you, because you didn’t click the button, the monkey did. What kind of bullshit is that? So does this mean that photos taken with a “selfie stick” don’t belong to me, but rather, to the public domain? I didn’t push the button, after all…

This is what happened to photographer David Slater’s photos of a monkey in Indonesia. Wikimedia has denied his repeated requests for the photo to be taken down, and Slater is forced to take the matter to court, even though going to court is going to be costly and time-consuming. Read More

Expert Thoughts

Here’s Why I Was Afraid to Look Up My Uber Rating

Mahbod Moghadam (Photo via Facebook)

Yesterday there was this meme where you could look up your own Uber rating, see what the DRIVERS thought of YOU.

When I first heard about this, I was deeply offended. I was like, “wait WTF, so I am paying all this money to be judged?!”

I am still pretty pissed about it, I think I am going to switch to Lyft. That way, I don’t have to be analyzed, I can just fist pound with my bruh-bruh. I am not a piece of meat, I am a human being! I think it is pretty shameful that Uber even lets the passengers judge the drivers, but whatever, at least I am paying to objectify this dude. Read More

Expert Thoughts

“Bitcoin Is The Truth,” Says Rap Genius Founder Mahbod Moghadam

Mahbod Moghadam (Photo via Facebook)

My introduction to Bitcoin came from the smartest living man. Balaji Srinivasan is the youngest General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Currently he is building a development wing for Andreessen—a project that, to my knowledge, no VC has ever undertaken. Ben Horowitz calls him “Young Einstein”.

Balaji is Indian, but has piercing green eyes. Looking at his face is hypnotic. He is a prodigy — he started teaching at Stanford when he was 26. The first time I met him, he took me to brunch in Williamsburg and we discussed asking Nas to record a diss track on this bitch-ass tech reporter whom we both loathe…

The conversation quickly turned to Bitcoin. Read More

book club

Exclusive: Mahbod Moghadam Reveals Rocky Origins of Rap Genius

Rap Genius cofounders Tom Lehman, Ilan Zechory and Mahbod Moghadam.

(adapted from Chapter 5 of  entitled Rap Jesus)

When Rap Genius started in 2009, the name was Rap Exegesis — the words “Rap Exegesis” were literally the first words that came out of my mouth when Tom (Lehman — my co-founder/BFF) presented me with the concept. We worked on the site for six months with this name, and even though we loved it, we knew it would someday have to change because: Read More

Q&A

Rap Jesus: Ousted Genius Founder Mahbod Moghadam Finally Speaks

Mr. Moghadam (Photo via Facebook)

Rap Genius cofounder Mahbod Moghadam might not be working at the startup he helped create (which was recently rechristened Genius) anymore. But he’s not going quietly — he recently revealed he’s working on a book about his time with the startup formerly known as Rap Genius.

We had to get some more details, so we emailed Mr. Moghadam some questions about his new project and his past experiences. Also check out this book teaser Mr. Moghadam shared with us from his upcoming tome, Genius Inc. Read More

Just Genius

Today in WTF Rap Genius News: $40M Raised, a Kanye West Redesign and Mahbod Is Writing a Book

Rap Genius cofounders Tom Lehman, Ilan Zechory and Mahbod Moghadam.

When it comes to covering the tech industry, Rap Genius is the startup that keeps on giving. The average human can only take so many boring press releases about how a knockoff of Snapchat is going to change the world, you know?

But whenever the Rap Genius guys appear in public or sit for an interview, something bizarre happens. Today, for example, Business Insider broke the news that the annotation site has nabbed $40 million in funding from Ben Gilbert (as well as Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreessen, who is also an investor in BI) and that they’re changing their name to the catch-all Genius. Read More

Expert Thoughts

5 Celebrities I Met While Interning at Rap Genius

(Facebook)

Earlier this year, I took a leave of absence from college to go work for the cofounder of Rap Genius, Mahbod Moghadam. I lived with him in his house — the “Rap Genius Mansion,” I started calling it — in Bel-Air, Los Angeles, for a month.

There are a lot of negative misconceptions about Rap Genius, but there’s a reason why they have a $15 million Series A investment and the backing of some of the biggest names in the game. They’ve done an incredible job of putting together a collection of the most passionate, talented startup people that I’ve ever been around. Seeing the way that its three cofounders — Tom Lehman, Ilan Zechory, and Mahbod — moved helped me learn in a way that college never could. This is a very serious company with a very bright future ahead of them, and I was incredibly fortunate to be a small part of it. Read More

App for That

Rap Genius Launches Shazam-esque Lyrics App

Something for pretty much everyone. (Screengrab: itunes.apple.com)

Fresh off the Christmas Day SEO snafu that had Google leaving their site for dead (to Google’s own detriment), the guys of Rap Genius have launched an app.

The app, called Genius, connects to users’ iPhone music players, allowing them to read and annotate lyrics while listening to songs. A button allows users to get the lyrics for what they’re listening to, or the songs in their iTunes Library. Read More