Genius Media, the widely used lyrics-database company formerly known as Rap Genius, has been acquired by app and internet media holding company MediaLab for $80 million.
Genius confirmed its agreement to sell the company to MediaLab. “MediaLab’s commitment to investing in artists and fan-driven communities makes them the ideal partner to propel Genius forward,” Genius said in a statement to Variety. “Genius would not be where it is without the tireless efforts of our whole team. We are immensely grateful to everyone who has made Genius what it is today.”
With the acquisition, MediaLab is making layoffs at Genius, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the sale. Genius and MediaLab would not confirm how many employees are being pink-slipped.
“We are restructuring the way in which original content is produced at Genius and as part of that some very talented individuals on the content and production teams were let go,” MediaLab said in a statement. “The scale of the community platform is what attracted us to Genius and this is where we will be heavily investing going forward, with a renewed focus on emerging artists.”
Brooklyn-based Genius had raised $77.7 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. Its investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Quicken Loans, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, and artists Eminem, Nas and Pharrell Williams.
According to Bloomberg’s report, Genius Media’s obligations to preferred shareholders exceeded the $80 million sale price, so “investors won’t be paid out in full.”
MediaLab claims on its website that its portfolio of internet brands and apps has more than 80 million monthly active users. The company’s holdings include Kik, Whisper, Datpiff, Worldstar Hip Hop and Amino.
Founded in 2009 — originally called Rap Genius — Genius operates an extensive database of song lyrics as produces original content including its flagship series “Verified.” In addition, Genius powers Spotify’s “Behind the Lyrics” feature and has a pact with Apple Music for lyrics integration.
In the summer of 2020, it launched Genius Live, an interactive livestreaming platform that hosts live concerts and artist events. Genius claims to have more than 100 million global users and 2 million contributors to its lyrics database.
In late 2019, Genius sued Google and LyricFind, alleging the companies stole song lyrics maintained by Genius. That case was dismissed last year by a federal judge, who ruled Genius did not have standing to sue in the matter since it doesn’t own the rights to the original lyrics.