Editor’s Note: This is the first in the PRSUIT Voices Series where startup CEOs, creators and entrepreneurs take time to reflect on their journey and what they are building.
I’ve been working on a pretty insane, life-changing project over the past year, and I want to give you, reader, my “pitch”, and see what you think. Hopefully you can learn a thing or two from my crazy journey thus far.
Ok so… I always used to say that my old site, Rap Genius, is going to be the biggest site ever. And it got preeeeety big… decent size.. probably worth, like, a Bil or two, at least.. but still not exactly “wowzers”. (In my defense, it was blowing up the whole time I was there! But then it plateaued when I left…I wonder why…)
But now that I’m working on Everipedia – which is the cool, new + improved version of Wikipedia minus the racism and sexism – I’m at it again, running around town, shouting, “yoooo! This site is gonna be the biggest site EVERRR! Swagggg…”
I’m making a fool of myself. Why am I doing it?
Because I actually believe that this time I’m right. I am a Belieber. That’s the only reason I’m even working on it. After my brain surgery, I switched to a part-time role at Rap Genius, and my plan was to never work full-time again. My doctors told me working full-time was a really bad idea for someone in my condition.
The only reason I’m back at it is because I believe this company is going to revolutionize human knowledge. Sounds corny, I know, but hear me out:
I was giving a talk at UCLA when the “Persian Zuck” aka Sam Kazemian (Everipedia’s CEO) came up to me and showed me my Everipedia page. I instantly lost it! My DREAM had always been to have my own Wikipedia page – I had tried a couple of times, and had even gotten help from a seasoned Wikipedia editor in making it – but Wikipedia kept taking it down. Not only do they have a rule that you’re not allowed to make your own page (even if all the info you give is 100% accurate), but they also decided, arbitrarily, that I’m not “notable” enough to merit a page.
So when Sam showed me my page, I thought, damn, if I wanted a page so badly, and Wikipedia wouldn’t let me have it, then there are probably millions of other people who feel the same way I do. I knew Everipedia was going to blow up. I got Sam his first $120K investment from Mucker Capital, and he let me join the team as a cofounder.
After joining EP, I remembered how salty I felt about Wikipedia’s rule that you can’t edit your own page, so I suggested Sam create “Verified Accounts” for celebrities, so that the celebs can add to their own pages and communicate with their fans on the site, the same way Verified Artists annotate their own lyrics on Genius.
The first famous person to get a Verified Account was Wikipedia cofounder Larry Sanger, who is basically the biggest pimp alive. The first page he edited was Wikipedia’s Everipedia page. So think about it… how f*cking META can you get? The founder of Wikipedia edited Wikipedia’s Everipedia page… ON EVERIPEDIA!! Try saying that five times fast! It was even cooler than watching Nas break down Illmatic back in 2012..
Of course at this point, I still didn’t see the full vision.
What really drove it home was genius/pimp Travis Moore joining as a Cofounder. He sees Everipedia as a “Crowdsourced Google” – a directory for all of the world’s information, organized by humans, rather than a heartless machine. Wikipedia has a little over 5 million pages; Everipedia already has 6 million pages…but we’re just getting started. Someday, it will have BILLIONS of pages, just like Facebook. It is going to be the FACEBOOK WIKI. All of the world’s information will be contained within it. Sam built Everipedia because his two loves are Wikipedia and Zuck. The counterfactual he sought to explore with this invention is: what would Wikipedia look like if ZUCK had built it?
But the real reason why Everipedia is going to be the biggest site ever is the team. Sam is the most capable CEO of all time – not only is he a master of code, but he has an acute understanding of human psychology, management, and finance. I call him “Persian Zuck”, but who he reminds me of the most is Rap Genius CEO Tom Lehman. They are both powerlifters, both majored in Philosophy.
Travis is the smartest person I’ve ever met. Christian, George, Navin and Angel are hard workers as well as brilliant managers, and are masterfully running our (already sizable) community. These guys were born to be famous.
The only flaw with the team is me! I’m a weirdo with a checkered past, and I bring infamy to this incredible team comprised of my best friends.
But I was the catalyst – I got the ball rolling. Very early on, I told Ben Horowitz that I’m happy to resign and return to retirement if he invests $20M into the company. He didn’t respond – but eventually he will come to his senses and realize it is the right thing to do. Everipedia is bigger than me, it’s bigger than any of us – it is the next logical step in the evolution of the Internet.
Deletionists rule Wikipedia. Ironically, they’re constrained by print-era thinking. What harm does it do if an online reference has a long tail of articles that are only interesting to a few people, so long as everyone can still find whatever they’re looking for? There is room to do to Wikipedia what Wikipedia did to Britannica.
When I left Genius, PG blocked me on Twitter. He was sick of my bullsh*t. But then, last week, he magically unblocked me. (Still no follow-back though.) Interesting timing, no?
Everipedia already has well over a million monthly unique users. It is growing at a breakneck speed, 3x the speed of Rap Genius. I am already certain it is on track to become a pillar of the internet. My work here is done.
What, you may ask, am I going to do once I leave Everipedia? I will move to Ibiza, chillax, and watch my Everipedia teammates turn into corporate goons, just like Tom and Ilan. I will learn the complete keyboard works of Bach. And then, once I get bored, I’ll start a 3rd company. It will be a Ponzi Scheme, straight up. We’re talking “Clinkle 2.0”. No product at all! The domain will be “pon.zi”.
And I’ll only take money from investors who rejected both Rap Genius and Everipedia – they won’t say no a third time, trust me! It’s gonna be awesome…
And so, THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS… the only way you can build a serious startup is if the CEO is technical and has built an amazing app.
No one can ever build your app for you, and even if they do, it will not go anywhere.
Every company needs a ZUCK. Tom was my first Zuck, Sam is my second. I serve these men – they are the leaders of the companies. If you are not technical – then start kissing some ass! The only way you’ll succeed is if you join forces with one of these Zuck-like figures. Your team is everything.
Image credit: YT