Rap Genius co-founder resigns after annotating note by serial killer Elliot Rodger

The annotation of the serial killer's manifesto went into "gleeful insensitivity", the site's fellow co-founder Tom Lehman said

Rap genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam has resigned from the music annotation site, following his controversial commentary of the manifesto written by serial killer Elliot Rodger.

According to a letter posted on Rap Genius by fellow co-founder Tom Lehman (via Billboard), Moghadam will be leaving the company and its board of directors after posting his annotation of the letter written by Rodger, who killed six people before taking his own life near the University of Santa Barbara on Friday night.

According to Lehman’s note, Moghadam’s annotations were posted with the hope of helping people understand the “psychology of people who do horrible things can help us to better understand our society and ourselves”.


However, according to Lehman’s letter, Moghadam’s commentary “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.”

One line in particular which caused controversy was Moghadam’s presumption that Rodger’s sister was “smokin hot” and noting how “artfully written” his sentences were.

In a statement to Valleywag, Moghadam said he was interested in Rodger because they both grew up in the same area.

“I was fascinated by the fact that a text was associated with such a heartbreaking crime, especially since Elliot is talking about my neighbourhood 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.”

Brooklyn-based Rap Genius was founded in 2009 by Mahbod Moghadam, Ilan Zechory and Tom Lehman, and received $15m of investment in 2012 from Andressen Horowitz, the venture capital firm famous for supporting successful startups including Facebook, Twitter, Groupon and Airbnb. The site’s founders say they plans to move into rock lyrics, news, and poetry, with Lehman recently saying he wants the site “to add context to all important texts in people’s lives”.