The saga of Megaupload is really earning Betabeat’s “SOPA Opera” slug. To wit: Earlier this week, the New York Post reported that Swizz Beatz was the CEO of the rogue file-sharing company Megaupload. (The news was in the context of Megaupload’s lawsuit with Universal Music Group for using its clients, namely Kanye West, Will.i.am, and Sean “Diddy” Combs in promotional video called “Mega Song”.)
A few hours before the feds arrested four Megaupload executives and shut down the “cyberlocker,” Betabeat got confirmation from Swizz Beatz’s publicist, Phylicia Fant from the Purple Agency, that he was the CEO of the Megaupload. Betabeat also reached out to his agent at Universal Attractions, who did not respond directly to that question. However, as VentureBeat reports today, Attorney Ira Rothken, Megaupload’s “top lawyer,” says, “To my knowledge, Swizz Beatz was never involved in any meaningful way. He was negotiating to become the CEO, but it was never official.”
Swizz Beatz, born Kasseem Dean, was not named anywhere in the 72-page indictment, which was unsealed yesterday and revealed that founder Kim Schmitz, aka Kim Dotcom, owns 68 percent of the company, with the remainder divided between other (non-celebrity) executives. However, by the Post‘s account it seems Mr. Beatz, whose wife Alicia Keys, has also promoted Megaupload, was involved in getting fellow celebrities like Serena Williams, Ciara, and Kim Kardashian to participate in the “Mega Song” commercial.
As to why Mr. Beatz would be negotiating to take on the chief executive role of site in the crosshairs of the FBI and the music and movie industry, where they sometimes referred to the 300 lb. founder Mr. Schmitz as “Dr. Evil,” remains to be seen. But if we were him, we’d probably place our money-making bets on a freemium file-sharing site over the relic of a record industry too.