Rap Genius co-founder out after Elliot Rodger jokes

Mahbod Moghadam resigns following annotations to Rodger's manifesto with jokes about his sister

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
May 27, 2014
Short URL:

Here's a free life tip for you: mass shootings are not funny. They just aren't. The quicker you realize that, the better off you will be. Unfortunately, one of the co-founders of annotation website Rap Genius did not get that memo.

And, just like that, he is now out of a job.

The company announced on Sunday that co-founder Mahbod Moghadam has resigned after he made a a series of tasteless annotations to the text of 141 page manifesto left behind by Elliot Rodger, the man who shot and injured 13 people, while killing seven others, including himself, over the weekend in Santa Barbara.

Those annotations, which have been since been deleted but were captured by ValleyWag, included two points in which he cited sentences as "beautifully written."

But what really got him in trouble were references to Rodger's supposedly “smokin’ hot" sister who, according to Moghadam, must have played a part in him wanting to kill a bunch of people.

Rodger had been a member of, a forum for men who blamed women for their lack of dating success. Rodger frequently posted rantings about how much he hated those women who were not attracted to him.

So isn't it just hilarious to lay the blame for his actions at the feet of his sister? I mean, if only she hadn't rejected him too, right? UGH.

In a blog post, Rap Genius co-founder and CEO Tom Lehman said that Moghadam's comments "not only didn’t attempt to enhance anyone’s understanding of the text, but went beyond that into gleeful insensitivity and misogyny."

If Moghadam had been a new user, he said, it would have been up to the community to censor him. If he were a moderator, they would have been forced to step down as a community leader.

And, so, Moghadam had to be let go.

"Mahbod is my friend. He's a brilliant, creative, complicated person with a ton of love in his heart. Without Mahbod Rap Genius would not exist, and I am grateful for all he has done to help Rap Genius succeed," Lehman said.

"But I cannot let him compromise the Rap Genius mission – a mission that remains almost as delicate and inchoate as it was when we three founders decided to devote our lives to it almost 5 years ago."

Moghadam has since apologized for his actions, telling Gawker, "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."

He also apologized via Twitter:

This is not the first time that Moghadam has found himself in hot water, including once telling Mark Zuckerberg to "suck my dick," behavior that he later said was the result of a procedure to have brain tumor removed.

The co-founders, which also includes Ilan Zechory, have also admitted to taking drugs, including Vyvanse and Adderall. In fact, in his apology to Zuckerberg, Moghadam even called himself "Mahbod 'Vyvanse' Moghadam."

Founded in 2009, Rap Genius started a forum for users to annotate and change rap lyrics, but has since expanded to other types of works, including, apparently, the manifestos from murderers.

(According to Lehman, the site debated about whether or not to even include Rodger's work on the site, but, in the end, they "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." I bet Moghadam wishes he could take that decision back now!)

The site has raised over $16 million, including a $15 million round from Andreessen Horrowitz in 2012, which Marc Andreessen said would be used to "annotate the world." Perhaps that will still happen, just without Mahbod Moghadam.

(Image source: