"Genius is going to be big."
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is putting his financial muscle behind the annotation site Genius, formerly Rap Genius, leading a just-announced round of funding totaling $40 million. In a blog post, the Quicken Loans founder explains his decision to invest a chunk of his considerable fortune in a platform he correctly notes is "growing like wildfire every single day."
Titled "I'm Hoping It's 'Smart' to Invest in 'Genius,'" Gilbert gives a little history lesson about Rap Genius, including its recent licensing deals with music publishers, before boasting of the site's new channels exploring history, sports, literature, among others, and the possibilities they bring.
"Some annotations are deeply informative," he writes. "Others are more playful and inventive. The best annotations include a little bit of everything. You can easily become lost as you journey down the rabbit hole. Who would ever think that searching Run D.M.C. song lyrics could lead to an annotation of the Declaration of Independence that, by 6-degress of separation, leads to Vince Gilligan’s 'Breaking Bad' and Lana Del Rey’s music?"
Naturally, Gilbert's essay is annotated, though contributors have not delved too deep yet. User SameOldShawn highlighted his mention of the Run-D.M.C. classic "Peter Piper," pointing people to that song's Rap Genius entry, and Gilbert annotates himself as well. In a bulleted list of his favorite sections of Genius, one being the News vertical, Gilbert encourages readers to check out the exhaustive entry of Newsweek article falsely "outing" bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
"It’s amazing to see dozens of members of the Genius community (including [Netscape cofounder and Rap Genius investor] Marc Andreessen) find the holes and inconsistencies in the reporting in the story," Gilbert writes.
Gilbert writes that he's especially excited about the prospect of journalists, authors, artists and athletes contributing directly to entries regarding their own work. He envisions coaches and quarterback breaking down their big games, and general managers explaining, via annotation of course, why they drafted certain players.
(The Cavaliers owner also made sure to include a link to the deep-dive on LeBron James' "Coming Home to Cleveland" essay, in which the NBA superstar explained his decision to return to his hometown team after four years in Miami.)
Regarding the Lit channel, Gilbert imagines one day reading Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" on an iPad and then seeing that the author himself has annotated part of it. "In that moment, reading becomes a collaborative activity and allows for a deeper, richer and more connected experience. The world has never seen anything like this before."
Genius' expansion and recent cash infusion was announced this week by Andreessen Horowitz investor and board member Ben Horowitz. The $40 million sum, led by Gilbert and part of the Series B funding, builds on Genius' $15 million Series A round in October 2012, spearheaded by Andreessen Horowitz.
"I am excited to invest in Genius (through Detroit Venture Partners (DVP)) along with Andreessen Horowitz, among others," Gilbert writes in his blog post. "I am also looking forward to joining the Board of Directors with Ben Horowitz and the company’s founders, Tom Lehman and Ilan Zechory. From the moment I met them, I knew the creativity and passion of Ilan and Tom, as well as the other team members of Genius, would propel them to build something very special."
He adds, "Sometimes you can ‘feel’ a winner even before they speak a single word."