Rap Genius Co-founder Praises UCSB Shooter's Memoir, Promptly Gets Himself Fired
The highly-funded startup Rap Genius fired co-founder Mahbod Moghadam on Monday after Moghadam publicly praised UCSB shooter Elliot Rodger’s memoir on the company website. In an annotated version of Rodger’s manifesto, Moghadam called the memoir “beautifully written,” and concluded from an anecdote in the memoir that Rodger’s sister must be “smokin hot.” After the comments caused widespread public disgust, Moghadam’s business partner Tom Lehman asked him to leave the company.
Prior to killing six people and himself in a rampage near Santa Barbara on Friday, 22-year-old Rodger wrote a profoundly misogynistic manifesto wherein he detailed, among other things, his plans to “punish all females for the crime of depriving me of sex.” Shortly after the screed went public, Moghadam posted an annotated version of it on Rap Genius, and while it’s since been removed, Moghadam’s comments were offensive enough to get him booted from the company he helped create.
Moghadam’s annotations were full of bizarre commentary, much of which expressed a weirdly sympathetic view toward Rodger. In one section of the memoir, Rodger talks about a woman by whom he felt shunned; Moghadam calls the passage “beautifully written” and says that the woman in question would “go on to attend USC and turn into a spoiled hottie.” In another segment, wherein Rodger wrote that he felt angry after hearing his sister having sex with her boyfriend, Moghadam speculated that Rodger was angry because “his sister is smokin hot.”
Moghadam soon apologized on Twitter...
...but it was too late to save his job. In a statement on the company website, Lehman announced that Moghadam had been let go.
Almost all the annotations [of Rodger's memoir] were at least attempting a close reading — they were genuinely, though imperfectly, trying to add context to the text and make it easier to understand.
However, Mahbod Moghadam, one of my co-founders, annotated the piece with annotations that 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.
In light of this, Mahbod has resigned — both in his capacity as an employee of the company, and as a member of our board of directors, effective immediately.
Rap Genius, which initially procured a staggering $15 million in startup funding, was most recently in the news for trying to trick Google’s search algorithm. The gambit failed, and Google punished Rap Genius for it by obliterating the company’s search engine presence.