Blog Post

Digg Trying Hard — Maybe Too Hard — to Stay Relevant

Digg founder and CEO Kevin Rose

The new version of Digg finally launched for all users today, although the site had some teething problems for much of the morning. It was unavailable for almost two hours, and remained slow for some time afterward, with periodic errors when users tried to sign in or use Facebook Connect. The redesign of the link-sharing social network — which has been in invitation-only alpha testing for over a year — focuses on a Twitter and Facebook-style system of “following” other users and publishers, and gives users a new view called “My News” that shows links from those you follow as an alternative to an overall view of everything that’s been posted to the site.

The new Digg design is the first major launch since founder Kevin Rose took over as CEO after the departure of former CEO Jay Adelson, which involved some layoffs and a refocusing of many aspects of the company. While the site still has a hardcore group of devoted users, its traffic has declined over the past year or so, as other social-networking services like Twitter and Facebook — which many people use to share links that might have otherwise gone to Digg — have continued to grow at exponential rates. Statistics from show that Digg’s traffic has recovered somewhat over the past few months from the lows of last year, but is still sharply lower than previous highs.

As Liz has written in the past, and I pointed out in my early review of the invitation-only alpha, the Digg redesign takes a number of cues from Twitter and Facebook, including the idea of “following” certain users when you sign up. While this may make the new site more familiar, it also runs the risk of duplicating content users are already seeing elsewhere. Most of the links that appear in the “My News” view when I login, for example, are links I’ve already seen in my Twitter stream, since I follow the same people and accounts there. In an interesting move, the “My News” view is now an option, while the regular “Top News” view is the default — during the alpha, the “My News” view was the default.

In a recent interview with Kara Swisher at All Things Digital, Rose said that the site is close to announcing a new CEO — the Digg founder and angel investor admitted that he’s not comfortable with the job, since he doesn’t enjoy managing people — and added that the company has had several months of break-even financial performance and hopes to become profitable soon. Rose said that the site has “double-digit millions” worth of revenue, and therefore doesn’t need to raise additional financing any time soon. Digg has raised a total of $40 million, including a Series C round of $28 million in 2008.

Walkthrough [sic] the new Digg with Kevin Rose from Digg Videos on Vimeo.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): Social Advertising Models Go Back to the Future

20 Responses to “Digg Trying Hard — Maybe Too Hard — to Stay Relevant”

  1. Gildmeister

    For me the irony is that I have watched the associated diggnation podcast from day one and never miss an episode, but in all the years digg has been around Ive posted a paltry 6 stories. The site is really a waste of time in my view because there’s no incentive to get really involved because of the people who monopolize the site. You can post an exclusive story first on digg, but if you aren’t a heavy/influential user, your story doesn’t get dugg, then one them take your story using almost the exact same title, post under their name, and get tons of diggs. I rarely visit the site, and I find that Ive been missing nothing on the rare occasion I do check in. The site lost relevancy long ago. It was Kevins hobby, he got bored and moved on (hell, its obvious to anyone paying attention that he’s way more excited about twitter and foursquare than his own company) . He lost passion for it and moved on, so should we.

  2. Hari Seldon

    I like the way that you can follow users and/or sites and then have this be an rss feed. I don’t know if you can do this on other sites, but I like it.

  3. Earth to Silicon Valley:

    DIGG is toast! They have lost their way. I actually think their problems are too serious to fix.

    They missed the proverbial window of opportunity.

  4. Gone_To_Reddit

    I moved to Reddit years ago and never looked back. Reddit evolved and Digg never did. And the Reddit community is awesome. And a fair bit of the content is generated by user offering to respond to “Ask Me Anything” posts.


  5. Roger Cornall

    Digg is like Yahoo!, they lost their technology edge and now they have nothing. It’s somewhat embarrassing that it took that many developers this long to produce such an average product. Ongoing brain drain at Digg will see its demise within 18 months.

  6. I have been an early digger for years now and I finally think they have botched the site interface to such a heinous degree that I can no longer stomach the site and now have to figure out what alternatives are worth it. (sigh)

  7. Mark Hernandez

    When you mention that “the site runs the risk of duplicating content seen elsewhere,” well, that’s ALL we see in all the tech blogs — content being repeated constantly. Gigaom is perhaps the ONE tech site with the most original content of them all. I don’t miss a thing you guys put out, and I follow 100+ sites and blogs as part of my job.

    What really surprised me, though, was Kevin Rose being repeated like crazy when he made his comments about what Apple is about to do with “iTV” and I was very skeptical and wondered what made him privileged to get this inside information.

    The “parroting” that goes on between all the tech blogs is something that’s rampant everywhere regardless of site and style (tweet, social, blog, etc.)

    Perhaps what we’re seeing is that there are TOO MANY sources of the same information that people are just going to gravitate to a few and stick with them because it’s just too much. It’s a lot of effort for me to rummage through almost 50% repetition rate.

    The tech blogs act as though they’re the only source that people follow, which may be true in some cases, so they feel obliged to repeat in order to bring their followers the full scene. But we’re also getting the ability to merge all those streams together which makes this problematic.

    Everyone is trying a different mix and seeing if they happen to hit on something that resonates because you never know. Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop is remarkable, but also painful because it’s the epitome of information overload in spite of “myAlltop.”

    If someone wants to innovate, decide on a set of agreed upon keywords such as “mobile marketplace, iOS, Android, HP, Apple, etc” and then allow someone to pick the keywords they’re interested in and then channel and filter all the content being produced. That will at least block what you aren’t interested in knowing about.

    But it won’t remove the massive amount of duplication.

    Perhaps to deal with duplication one might employ a kind of heuristic algorithm which would give weight to the site(s) that consistently produce news items first, and have the best reputation for the most careful, thoughtful, informative and insightful writing that never forgets why their readers are reading it.

    Hmmmmm. :-)