Digg, one of the early, and successful social media pioneers, has sold its brand, website and technology to Betaworks, a technology studio. Previously, Digg’s tech team was picked up by the Washington Post.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company once valued at more than $160 million, is being purchased for about $500,000. A few years ago, it was rumored to have been in negotiations with Google to sell itself for around $200 million—negotiations that obviously fell through.
Digg was a leader and highly influential during its heyday, but the company has seen a precipitous decline over the last couple of years failing to define its value in the marketplace and to differentiate itself from competitors like Reddit. The company had reportedly raised between $30-45 million over its seven-year history, which means that if the $500,000 purchase price is in any way accurate, amounts to quite a “short sale” to its investors.
Digg was founded by Kevin Rose, a former cable television talk show host with a knack for self-promotion. In 2006, Rose was featured on the cover of BusinessWeek with the now infamous cover line, "How This Kid Made $60 Million in 18 Months."
From MySpace, Friendster and Photobucket, to Kodak, Borders and Blockbuster, we see that industry leaders can often lose their way and get into unrecoverable situations.
Although it still racks up more 7 million monthly unique visitors, Digg is a shell of its former influential self.
Digg will reportedly be combined with Betaworks’ social news summary email service and app, News.me. “We are turning Digg back into a start-up. Low budget, small team, fast cycles,” said a Betaworks blog post.
It will be interesting to watch if this is Digg’s last chapter, or its next.