I’m turning 33 soon -- Jesus, aging -- and I think I’ve got to start acting like a grownup. Ever since I started working on Everipedia, I have been hesitant to do anything too thug in terms of marketing because my cofounders, albeit young, are so well-kempt and well-behaved. This week, for the first time, I tried sending out a “thug tweet” from the corporate Twitter.
The reaction was… not good. My Swedish cofounder, with the most corporate sounding name on the team, Theodor Forselius, got very upset. I was like, “dude, you’re 20 years old... how are you already so corporate?” but then Tedde started pouting, and he has the cutest, most lovable face! I promised never to do it again.
Tedde is lovable so I don’t wanna mess with him! Sam Kazemian, also pictured, lets me do whatever I want. He’s the Persian Zuck, and he gives zero fucks! I love him.
What I’m trying to say is my thug guerilla marketing days might be over. I mean, this tweet wasn’t even bad compared to some of the other ones -- it was even sort of a compliment to Zuck. I still get a little crazy on Everipedia and Twitter, but for now, let’s take a trip down memory lane and examine some of the most thug marketing efforts we undertook on behalf of my previous company, Rap Genius.
Guerilla Warfare for Geniuses
At Rap Genius, my cofounders Tom Lehman and Ilan Zechory focused on product and the technology. Me, I focused on attention, doing as much devious stuff as my heart desired to get Rap Genius in front of the people. And damn, did we do it well. After millions of investment dollars and hours of corporate brainwashing by some of the world’s leading capitalists, the Genius team has cleaned up the act, gone corporate, and the fun stuff has died down. Fair warning: a lot of my Rap Genius guerilla marketing was performed at least partly naked, so proceed at your own risk.
EXHIBIT A: Das Racist naked Diss Freestyle
During Y Combinator (Rap Genius was in the Summer 2011 batch), some nights would get very hot and lusty. I’d say the team was naked about half the time. Das Racist dropped an album where they dissed Rap Genius, rapper Kool AD said (in the song “Middle of the Cake”): “RapGenius dot com is white devil sophistry”. This infuriated me because - as you can tell by looking at me - I am in fact an olive-skinned devil sophist! Tom and Ilan encouraged me to take my anger to the streets and perform a naked diss freestyle of Das Racist. The freestyle I performed was terrible - I was so ashamed! - but showing off my body did the trick, and the video amassed hundreds of thousands of views and became a viral sensation.
I was so embarrassed of this video that I finally ended up taking it off the Internet. It is now in the Dustbin of History. BUT - you can still enjoy this screenshot of the affair, courtesy of my lover/haters over at Gawker.
A lot of people ask me if I was also bottomless in the video. Yes. Rap Genius was built in the nude: we had NOTHING to hide from each other. At Everipedia HQ, thus far, we are keeping the tone more Islamic.
EXHIBIT B: Gave my Shirt to Lil B “The Based God”
I love Based God soOoOoOo much! He was one of the first rappers ever to promote Rap Genius - it is heartbreaking that he finally ended up disowning us! But I’ll never forget the #based, spiritual connection I made with Based God at his famed NYU talk, when I took of my Rap Genius shirt and gave it to him.
Now, Based God is no fool. He is a viral marketing genius as well, so he knows the value of being naked. In a brilliant move, rather than putting on the Rap Genius shirt I gave him, he took off his own shirt too! We both started flexing, and in doing so, we made an emotional bond that is rock-solid and will certainly last 4ever.
EXHIBIT C: “Zuck Can Suck My Dick”
This is the viral marketing stunt of which I am most ashamed. I love Zuck! Facebook is my life. In my defense, however, the controversy arose over a misquoting of my actual answer in the interview. What I actually, in fact, said was: “Ok, so let’s review. I told you NYTimes is Carlos Slim’s ho. I told you Zuck can suck my dick. Why am I being so aggressive? I need to be more positive.”
In other words - the reason I said it was to make fun of myself for being so mean and aggressive towards Zuck - a man whom I love - in the interview. But, I had dissed Harvard in the course of the interview too - and Guy Cimbalo, the interviewer - went to Harvard. So he decided to present my quote as an excerpt, out of context, in order to mess with me! And it worked, the press gobbled it up, and Genius again exploded with traffic.
Zuck stopped speaking to me after this - so we’re talking backfire-city. So sad. In keeping with tradition, I had my shirt off while doing the interview: it was over the phone on UC Berkeley campus, on another hot day!
So there you have it kids. That’s how Rap Genius became a billion dollar company. All I had to do was show my body. For Everipedia, it looks like they aren’t going to let me do this tactic since they are too chaste - so, this time around, I’m going to have to use my MYND to get the job done. I need to be more sapien… and I think I can do it! But for you young kids out there, trying to build the next “killer app” - my Words of Wisdom for you are thus: Get butt nekked! You have nothing to lose but your chains.