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Rap Genius Co-Founder Mahbod Moghadam Resigns in Wake of Elliot Rodger Annotation

Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam resigned today from the company and board of directors. The resignation follows an annotation by Moghadam on the manifesto written by Elliot Rodger, who went on…

Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam today resigned from the company and board of directors of the music annotation site, according to a letter posted on the Rap Genius site by its CEO/co-founder Tom Lehman. The resignation follows an annotation by Moghadam on the manifesto written by Elliot Rodger, the person who went on a killing spree near the University of Santa Barbara Friday night killing six before taking his own life.

Moghadam’s annotations can be seen scrolling his Rap Genius user page.


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According to Lehman’s note, the controversial annotation put up on Rap Genius’ News Genius site was posted in the hopes of helping people understand the “psychology of people who do horrible things can help us to better understand our society and ourselves.” But in Lehman’s estimation, Moghadam “not only didn’t attempt to enhance anyone’s understanding of the text, but went beyond that into gleeful insensitivity and misogyny. All of which is contrary to everything we’re trying to accomplish at Rap Genius.”

The more offensive part of Moghadam’s annotations were noted on Gawker which pointed out things like presuming the killer’s sister was “smokin hot;” and noting how “artfully written” some of his sentences were.

In a note defending himself to Valleywag‘s Nitasha Tiku, Moghadam said he was fascinated by Rodger because he was talking about where he grew up:

“I was fascinated by the fact that a text was associated with such a heartbreaking crime, especially since Elliot is talking about my neighborhood growing up I got carried away with making the annotations and making any comment about his sister was in horrible taste, thankfully the rap genius community edits out my poor judgement, I am very sorry for writing it.”

Rap Genius was founded in 2009 by Moghadam, Lehman and Ilan Zechory, all Yale graduates  According to Crunchbase the company has raised some 16.8 million dollars in financing which includes $15 million from Andreessen Horowitz last November.  The company was widely criticized for not having licenses for its content. More recently, however, Rap Genius has made deals with publishers and the National Music Publishers Associaiton.

Billboard reached out to Moghadam and Rap Genius for comment but had not heard back at press time.