Rap Genius has been in the news a lot as of late – not always for the best of reasons. First, the lyrics and text annotation service got pummeled by Google over the winter holiday for unnatural linking (don’t call it growth hacking). Then in May, its co-founder Mahbod Moghadam resigned (or was fired depending on the report) after a number of controversial annotations he made surfaced.
But the hoopla hasn’t seemed to turn off investor sentiment. Earlier this month, Rap Genius raised a $40M Series B from Cleveland Cavaliers owner and Quicken Loans chairman Dan Gilbert and earlier backer Andreessen Horowitz. The Brooklyn-based company also announced a name change to, simply, Genius.
We wanted to take a closer look at performance metrics around Genius to see if there was any discernible impact on these given all the bad news. And it seems the negative press hasn’t necessarily hurt Genius – the company’s web metrics continue to show incredible growth over time, but Genius’s mobile app has fallen precipitously the App Store ranks. The data below.
Web traffic has skyrocketed…
Genius was launched in October 2009, and it web traffic has consistently trended up. As the chart below highlights, the site’s rank has moved from 44,936 at the start of 2011 to 1801 as of June 1st, 2014. The small blip toward the end of last year was the impact of it being in the Google penalty box when its rank dropped over 6000 spots. When sanctions were lifted, it jumped back almost immediately and has been steadily rising including after the news surrounding Moghadam’s resignation.
…But mobile app rank has fallen fast
More than four years after launching, the startup released its mobile app, ‘Genius by Rap Genius’ in the iTunes App Store at the end of January 2014. But unlike its web performance which has grown, its app has fallen steeply in the App Store ranks. After hitting the top 50 ranked ‘Overall’ apps a day after launch, the Genius app now stands close to falling out of the top 1000. Its rank in the ‘Music’ category has also suffered, dropping from the top five ranked music apps to nearly 50 as of this June.
Of course, given the popularity of Genius on the web, it appears that its subpar mobile performance is perhaps due more to its mobile app not reaching a wide enough audience versus the controversies surrounding the company. Or perhaps it’s just an indication that the Genius model translates best on the web?
Given the company’s new $40M infusion and branding change, it will be interesting to monitor both the site and app’s performance moving forward. Note: the performance metrics data above was taken directly from the company’s Performance Metrics tab which is available to CB Insights subscribers in the Division or greater plans.
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