Mixx (n): Digg for Non-Geeks

[qi:027] Digg works well for those of us seeking out technology news, but let’s face it, the site primarily lures users that can be best defined as the geek niche. Chris McGill, CEO of Mixx and former general manager of Yahoo News, is betting that the Digg format of news aggregation has legs in other niche populations — specifically ones that don’t currently have a home of their own.

“We have great respect for Digg and Reddit, we like what they do, but this is for people who don’t have a place to turn right now,” McGill told us.

Set to launch its public beta sometime today, the Mixx site looks a lot like Digg, except the homepage is customizable. Think Google News meets Digg. When you sign up, there are a bunch of predefined topics they you can choose to follow on your homepage, but you’re able to make up your own categories, too. In addition to being grouped by a main category, submitted stories can be tagged with other topics, so they’re easier to find. The site also offers the option to track and vote on photos and videos.

Yesterday, Mixx said it has signed content partnerships with USA Today, Reuters (RTRSY), the LA Times, and other publishers, though the specific terms of those deals were not disclosed. The way the site is structured, content publishers can target users based on their chosen topics of interest.

McGill, who prior to his gig at Yahoo News worked as head of strategy at USA Today, told us he isn’t worried about making money yet, but eventually he plans to run advertising on the site.

One nifty feature is that users can create private groups, within which anyone can tag and discuss content. This would be useful, for instance, if employees of a startup want to keep tabs on the media coverage on their competition and discuss the news, but keep these discussions private.

I agree with Adam Ostrow over at Mashable that while Mixx looks like a Digg competitor, its competitors are really the traditional start pages à la My Yahoo or Netvibes. I doubt Digg users will abandon their community, but others who use Internet news sites to track the latest information in specific categories might find value in Mixx.

Based in McLean, Va., Mixx was launched in March. It has completed one round of funding led by Intersouth Partners of Durham, N.C.