Just four years ago Google reputedly offered Digg $200 million for its social networking service, but yesterday it was sold for just $500,000 to a company called Betaworks.
The remarkable reversal of fortunes follows a turbulent period for Digg, marred by several changes of key executives. The current executive Matt Williams, who replaced the founder Kevin Rose, who himself took over from former CEO Jay Delson.
Rose himself appeared on the cover of BusinessWeek at one point with the headline “How this kid made $60 million in 18 months”, although the article itself outlines that this is only paper wealth, and that the company was only breaking even. Rose currently works as a Google employee, presumably on Google’s social networking service Google+.
Digg was launched in 2004 by Kevin Rose, and enabled people to share Web content and was an early pioneer of the concept of ranking web pages via people’s ‘likes’ or ‘diggs’ as the Web site termed it. While the concept worked extremely well for Digg, it appears that more prominent sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ have taken social media users away from Digg.
The Digg Web site – in case it’s been so long you’ve forgotten what it looked like.
A blog entry on the Digg website optimistically titled “Today marks the next stage in Digg’s future”, and written by Matt Williams, outlines some of the thoughts behind the sale.
“Digg has always been a site built by the community, for the community. Over the last few months, we’ve considered many options of where Digg could go, and frankly many of them could not live up to the reason Digg was invented in the first place — to discover the best stuff on the web. We wanted to find a way to take Digg back to its startup roots.
We couldn’t be happier to announce that the next generation of Digg will live on with the team from Betaworks. Betaworks is combining Digg with News.me, a Betaworks company with an iPad app, iPhone app and daily email that delivers the best stories shared by your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Digg will join a portfolio of products developed by Betaworks designed to improve the way people find and talk about the news. Betaworks founder John Borthwick will be the CEO of the new Digg.”