January 19, 2020

Second Brain Tumor Inspires Mahbod Moghadam to Change Corporate Philosophy

Mahbod speaking at the StartEngine Summit, Howard Marks' crypto event

Every five years, on the eve of his internet startup becoming a “Unicorn” company, entrepreneur Mahbod Moghadam gets a brain tumor.

His first website, Genius.com (formerly “Rap Genius”), interprets the meaning of song lyrics. Moghadam got a benign brain tumor which required surgery in 2013, months after legendary internet investor Ben Horowitz invested $15 million dollars into his brainchild.

Moghadam received brain surgery three weeks ago – months after his second company, Everipedia, raised $30 million dollars from Wall Street titan Michael Novogratz’ Galaxy Digital Fund.

“The second tumor was a big wake up call,” Moghadam said. “With my first tumor, I always knew that I was still weak and frail. This was a tremor that hung over my brain since I was born – two weeks ago, a cloud was finally lifted from my mind.”

Moghadam is angered and says that his professional obligations at Rap Genius caused a disorder after his first brain surgery – his work didn’t allow him to properly heal.

“I was obligated to go to Kanye West’s engagement party three weeks after my 2013 brain surgery. I was on “Keeping Up WIth The Kardashians.” The cameraman had to avoid me because I had an extra-swollen right side of my skull.”

Rap Genius is widely-considered a “unicorn” company – worth a private valuation of a billion dollars. The “Behind the Lyrics” feature is integrated with many of Spotify’s songs, giving selections of the song lyrics’ meaning.

“Rap Genius is famous, but it’s a failure to me”, says Moghadam. “At some point, the site’s mission was to move beyond song lyrics and to interpret all of text – the Torah, everything.”

“I had a second brain tumor two weeks ago, and now I realize: Everipedia will succeed. It will not just be a unicorn – Everipedia will be a trillion dollar company.”

Everipedia is the newer, more inclusive version of Wikipedia. Moghadam was inspired to build the company because he was unable to get a Wikipedia page about his life – although he actually got one a month ago.

Last year, Everipedia raised $30 million dollars in order to build the “cryptocurrency Wikipedia” – where contributors are rewarded based on tokens called “IQ”. However, the brain tumor has inspired Moghadam to think bigger. “Everipedia is going to be the “Facebook of crypto” – it will be a trillion dollar company,” he said. “Knowledge projects like Wikipedia and social networks like Facebook aren’t so different – both sites can now use cryptocurrency to incentivize people sharing information with others.”

With Everipedia Chief Operations Officer Suchet Dhindsa and Advisor Sean Sarbaz the day after brain surgery

Everipedia was inspired by his first website, Genius. “The Everipedia President Sam Kazemian was a senior at UCLA when he met me in 2015. He was basically thinking – why is there this awesome “Wikipedia of Rap Lyrics,” but just a plain old Wikipedia website from 2001?” The two raised a seed investment in 2015 and brought their company to fruition.

Since his brain surgery, Everipedia has moved from a Westwood location into a new office in Santa Monica, a block away from the beach. “It was kind of weird, it was like a movie –  the same day I had brain surgery, we moved into our new office, after staying at three years by UCLA, where the company got started in 2015.”

Moghadam says his brain tumor has given a renewed vigor to his community building efforts. “I think this is going to be the ‘Facebook of Cryptocurrency’ – our President Sam Kazemian is known as the ‘Persian Zuck’ – he’s going to make the internet better by giving everyone a cryptocurrency stake.”

Moghadam believes in God and says his two brain tumors give his companies their Jewish, philosophical roots. “Sam (Kazemian) is actually one-sixteenth Jewish and 15/16ths Muslim – he is a special Persian breed. I think knowledge projects and social networks are a lot like the Talmud – we are all using the internet to make people smarter.”