Rap Genius Co-Founder Sacked for Comments on Killer's Manifesto

Image: Rap Genius Co-Founder Sacked for Comments on Killer's Manifesto

Tuesday, 27 May 2014 09:50 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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Co-founder of the Rap Genius app Mahbod Moghadam resigned under pressure from investors this weekend after he made inappropriate and insensitive comments in regard to Santa Barbara murder-spree suspect Elliot Rodger's manifesto.

According to Business Insider, the Rap Genius app allows users to annotate any set of text in existence, but is primarily used to decipher allusions and word play in rap and other song lyrics. In an attempt to promote his app, Moghadam uploaded the 22-year-old Rodger's 140-page memoir-manifesto to the app, making annotations that called the writing "beautifully written" and "artful" in addition to making a guess that the suspected killer's sister was "smoking hot."

Ilan Zechory, Moghadam's fellow co-founder, said in an email to BI that he was embarrassed by the annotations shortly before Moghadam was forced to resign.

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"Mahbod's annotations on the other hand are worse than weird, they're just bad. they are inconsiderate, uninteresting, and insensitive. it was horrible judgment to annotate in the way that mahbod did. thankfully the rap genius community is much more than one person, and when people put up stuff like this, it gets edited quickly. it's obviously embarrassing that it comes from a rap genius founder."

Moghadam apologized for his comments, releasing a statement to Valleywag.

"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," he wrote. "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."

The company, which has since 2009 raised roughly $17 million in venture funding, in turn issued a formal letter regarding the incident, saying, "Because this tragedy is still so raw, there was internal debate as to whether this document belonged on the site at all. Ultimately we decided that it was worthy of close reading – understanding the psychology of people who do horrible things can help us to better understand our society and ourselves."

Rodger, who died during a spree in which he allegedly killed six and injured 13 others, posted several disturbing YouTube videos in addition to the memoir, titled "My Twisted World."

The document reads in part, "On the day before the Day of Retribution, I will start the First Phase of my vengeance: Silently killing as many people as I can around Isla Vista by luring them into my apartment through some form of trickery."

In the wake of the shooting, many in the media have used the incident to highlight issues surrounding misogyny, while others have criticized the media themselves for devoting ample coverage of mass shooters, which often gives them the fame many of them seem to have sought.

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