ANDREESSEN HOROWITZ INVESTS $15 MILLION IN RAP GENIUS
Rap Genius is getting its paper on.
The popular online community that sprang up around rap lyrics just raised $15 million from Silicon Valley venture capitalists Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, who are betting the trio behind the website can move beyond the coded language of rap to decoding everything from the Beatles to the Bible.
One would presume that the catalyst behind this rare convergence between the worlds of rappers and coders was Horowitz, known for expressing business principles with rap lyrics. But Andreessen, the father of the Web browser, is also driving the investment. He says he always wanted to include a feature in the browser that would let people annotate any page on the Internet, adding context in hypertext. In fact, he originally built a feature that would do just that but abandoned it.
"Our idea was that each Web page would be a launch pad for insight and debate about its own contents," Andreessen wrote in a blog post. "I often wonder how the Internet would have turned out differently if users had been able to annotate everything –- to add new layers of knowledge to all knowledge, on and on, ad infinitum. And so, 20 years later, Rap Genius finally gives us the opportunity to find out. It’s an ambitious mission, and one we are proud to get behind."
Users quickly figured out that Rap Genius didn’t have to be just for rap lyrics. An English teacher had his class annotate the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic “The Great Gatsby.” Stanford law professor Mark Lemley decodes the finer points of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and Salt-N-Pepa lyrics on the site.
Horowitz, legendary as a rap aficionado in Silicon Valley, first was exposed to rap as one of the only white players on the Berkeley High School football team. He met the trio of Rap Genius founders — Mahbod Moghadam, 29; Ilan Zechory, 28; and Tom Lehman, 28 — when they were enrolled in Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley incubator. He soon became addicted to the site, and glimpsed its potential beyond rap music.
"Rap Genius is the one place you can go to connect the lyrics, culture and the back story. And it turns out there a lot of things like that," Horowitz said.
Read More: http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-andreessen-horowitz-invests-15-million-in-rap-genius-20121003,0,3352417.story
October 3, 2012, 1:10 p.m.