Lyric and annotation hub Genius has been acquired by the tech holding company MediaLab for $80 million, Genius tells Billboard. The deal is nearly equal to the $77.7 million in funding Genius has raised in to date, according to Crunchbase. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.
Launched in 2009 as Rap Genius, the Brooklyn-based company quickly rose to prominence as it became the de facto website to analyze and research the meaning behind the lyrics of rap’s biggest superstars. Founded by Tom Lehman, Ilan Zechory and Mahbod Moghadam, Rap Genius rebranded itself as Genius in 2014 as it expanded into new music genres outside of hip-hop, even delving into annotating literature and at one point a presidential debate.
The company has had a series of high-profile partnerships with major music streams — from a lyric deal with Spotify to display context behind songs, to a built-in Apple Music player on the Genius website — and even launched its own livestreaming platform last year called Genius Live. But none of its initiatives were enough to move its valuation up in the past few years. The result is a sale that will come with job cuts.
“We are restructuring the way in which original content is produced at Genius and as part of that some very talented individuals on the content and production teams were let go,” MediaLab said in a statement to Bloomberg. MediaLab says it will invest in the “community platform” as it focuses on emerging artists for the platform.
MediaLab owns a small group of companies including the mixtape platform DatPiff, social media platform Whisper and the messaging service Kik, which was popular around a decade ago. The company says it serves over 80 million users every month across its portfolio.
Reps for Genius and MediaLab did not respond to Billboard‘s request for comment.