Chief strategy officer
Ben Gross, chief strategy officer at Genius, has been with the company since it started, initially handling everything from its legal affairs as its general counsel, to running its finance, HR and facilities including finding the company its first office space, managing label relations and building the sales team. A highly regarded lawyer within the media industry, particularly in digital media, Gross remains responsible for legal matters at Genius, moving into a strategic role and being further involved in the business’ trajectory. While others now manage financial and sales matters, Gross is critical to the company’s core strategic relationships with the board, investors, music publishers and labels, as well as streaming services like Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and YouTube. Gross highlights that ‘the publishers are our most critical partners and using lyrics IP in creative ways is key to our business. Introducing Genius to the major and independent publishers, building trust, and ultimately mutually valuable strategic relationships has been very satisfying. I think moving these relationships from relatively hostile to positive and highly productive taught me a lot about the value of building real relationships with your counterparties’. Gross was influential in the company’s rebranding in 2014 from “Rap Genius” to simply “Genius” broadening the focus of the lyrics and music analysis company to other genres. This process, including the acquisition of the genius.com domain, was difficult, but allowed Gross’ experience shone through. Gross leads the company’s current effort to integrate Genius into Spotify via its “Behind the Lyrics” product. As Gross highlights: ‘This relationship has been an amazing experience – bringing Genius to millions of people who might not otherwise have experienced our content. Doing this deal wasn’t just negotiating a contract; I was deep in the product design discussions with Spotify as well… our most important deals are those we do with the music publishers. These relationships allow us to do all of the cool stuff we do with lyrics on Genius every day. Renewing those deals and keeping those relationships strong is a critical part of my job’.