Media / Social media

Mahbod Moghadam of Rap Genius on web annotation and pimples

Mahbod Moghadam believes that the Rap Genius annotation IQ will eventually evaluate all forms of expertise; he also really stresses out about pimples. That's from this half-hour, guerilla-camera-style interview from a Brooklyn reporter.

Mahbod Moghadam, Rap Genius, interviewed by journalist Boonsri Dickinson. Screencapture from Dickinson's YouTube video on Rap Genius.

One¬†cofounder of contextual lyrics site Rap Genius, Mahbod Moghadam, says that its annotation system will become integral to all text on the Internet. He’s also fixated on his pimples, which he talks about, at length, in a sprawling, iPhone video interview about the company, “Why Annotation May Change The Conversation Online,” by Boonsri Dickinson.

We’ve previously written about the Williamsburg company’s plan to annotate the whole web, which Moghadam very much reaffirms in the video below.

We met interviewer Dickinson¬†at the IFP Made In NY Media Center. She’s a freelance journalist and artist increasingly focused on video. This video was filmed and edited entirely on her iPhone. You can see a certain advantage in using a familiar device as the way of recording this conversation. Maybe it’s just Moghadam’s character, but he is considerably less guarded in this piece than you typically see executives in startups with $15 million in venture funding.

Here are some of the highlights from the half-hour interview:

  • “My apartment’s not like baller or anything. I was thinking about that yesterday. I am never going to have a baller apartment. I don’t want to be that person,” Moghadam says at the very start of the video.
  • Early in the video he complains how stress has started to cause pimples for him. Stress of the company growing. His pimple is an ongoing theme throughout, until at the end he comes to terms with the pimple. He begins to articulate a huge vision for how important their annotation system will eventually be online, then concludes by saying, “That’s where I am getting the pimples from. I shouldn’t call it ‘stress.’ I should call it ‘the sweetness of Rap Genius.'”
  • Moghadam believes that the site will become big enough that it will need at least one community manager for every country, because every country has rap.
  • He reads one of his poems on a Rap Genius balcony. The poem is a love poem about a woman’s various online identities.
  • Moghadam is, we learn, apparently not currently in love, so he explains that he wants to become a monk devoted only to Rap Genius, exercise and driving around aimlessly, listening to Gucci Mane.
  • The company went through a tough spot when Moghadam went into the hospital for brain surgery for a tumor that was making his work erratic. While in recovery, a fellow cofounder read him a pre-publication manuscript of The Hard Thing About Hard Things. Moghadam describes the book as Rap Genius’s gameplan for “when the shit hits the fan.”
  • His proudest moment is Snoop Dogg affirming one of his annotations in a Rap Genius video.
  • At the time of the video, Moghadam says he’s working a lot on News Genius. He describes the vision for the site, “News Genius is going to debunk the myth of scientific journalism.”

We knew the company expected big things for their platform, particularly that the idea of annotating all text online would come.

“No one is going to be able to imagine a text online without annotations anymore,” Moghadam says.

We also learn that the company sees huge potential in its different IQ scores. The IQ scores evaluate the quality and the frequency of an annotator’s annotation. Apparently, they foresee a day when IQ scores could impact your grades in primary school and your ability to get a job in a certain field.

Other fun facts, Moghadam does not like cities but he loves strong green tea before a workout.

Companies: Genius
Series: Brooklyn

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