The social news pioneering site--once rumored to be worth $200 million to Google--Thursday was practically given away.
In a time of billion-dollar valuations and even larger IPOs, the news that Digg was sold for a reported $500,000 is a reminder that even mighty tech titans can crash. According to the Wall Street Journal, Betaworks, owner of properties such as Bitly and News.me, picked up the social news pioneer for a tiny fraction of the $45 million Digg had raised over the years from Valley heavyweights like Marc Andreessen.
Digg, an aggregator that ranks news based on user input, was started by Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson in 2004, and by 2008 had almost 30 million users a month. Rose went on to become a tech celebrity of sorts after a famous all-smiles BusinessWeek cover with the headline “How This Kid Made $60 Million In 18 Months.” He did eventually join Google in March of this year, after the company bought his startup incubator Milk.
Digg’s decline came at the hands of a perfect storm. In August 2010 Digg v4, the site’s 4th design iteration was a released to user fury. It was not only riddled with bugs, but it did away with several popular features, including the infamous "bury" button. In response, users fled Digg for social news rival Reddit. At the same time, Twitter and Facebook were taking over the interest and social graphs, with features similar to those Digg had pioneered.
Oh how the mighty have fallen.