Digg logo

Digg is an American news aggregator with a curated front page, aiming to select stories specifically for the Internet audience, such as science, trending political issues, and viral Internet issues.

Quick Fact


  • Ranked #12,527th worldwide
  • Active users 8 M
  • Type Discussion Networks
  • Launched date Nov 2004
  • Employees 25
  • Headquarters 50 Eldridge Street, Chinatown, New York City, U.S
  • Parent company BuySellAds (2018 - Present)


Kevin Rose California


  • Brand value In 2020 $0.5 M
  • Revenue in 2020 $8.5 M
  • Net loss In 2020 N/A

Digg’s Success

Digg’s SuccessKevin Rose on Businessweek cover.

(via observer.com)

In 2006, Kevin Rose, one of Digg’s co-founders, was featured on the cover of BusinessWeek with the headline: “How this kid made $60 million in 18 months”. At that time, the website was attracting close to 200 million unique visitors per year and was raising large amounts of capital from investors.

Digg’s Failure

Digg’s FailureDigg's chart in 2010. (via observer.com)

In Aug 2010, Digg released a new version of the website code-named “Digg v4”. Shortly after, the number of visitors dropped by more than 50%, 40% of the staff was laid off and Kevin Rose resigned.

Digital Challenges That Digg Couldn’t Handle

Users were abusing Digg’s digital platform

Even though the Digg concept was initially very democratic (everybody could submit links and everybody could vote), it quickly became an oligarchy.

The reason was the so-called “power users”: a select group of users who had a disproportionate influence on votes because they were “popular”.

Every time a power user would submit a link to Digg, all its followers would up-vote the link. As a result, more than 50% of the front page was filled with power-user submitted links. Not very democratic!


As always with digital platforms, people try to enhance the system every time you give them a chance. One solution could be to mimic 4chan.org's anonymous posting policy to reduce the influence of individual users.

When posting anonymously, users are discouraged from abusing the system for self-promotion or fame.

Digg yielded to investor pressure

“… this new version of Digg reeks of VC meddling. It’s cobbling together features from more popular sites and departing from the core of Digg, which was to ‘give the power back to the people.’’ – Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit (a competitor of Digg).

One of the reasons behind Digg’s v4 fiasco was the VC investors who put pressure on Digg to generate profits. As a consequence, Digg tried to copy other more popular (and profitable) websites instead of sticking to its existing features. In addition, Digg changed its ranking algorithm in v4 and pushed “corporate-sponsored” articles to its front page.


Generating profit as a digital platform is hard. Taking shortcuts to get there is a losing strategy!

Digg should have focused on its users rather than on its P&L. Reddit did it and is now #1 (and worth millions even though they’re still losing money).

Reddit copied Digg and got away with it

Reddit was founded in 2005 and offered almost the exact same features as Digg. Contrary to Digg, however, they never changed their UI and were comfortable in losing money because they were acquired by Condé Nast Publications, which provided ample financial safety.

When Digg v4 was released, Reddit welcomed Digg users (and even put a Digg logo on their website to taunt them!)


Digital platforms are very competitive by nature: any new entrant can replicate your website overnight.

What it can’t replicate are the user base and the community, and this is what Digg should have protected above all (instead of changing the UI to make it mainstream).

Sale And Relaunch

Sale And RelaunchKevin Rose. (via google.com)

In July 2012, Digg was sold in three parts: the Digg brand, website, and technology were sold to Betaworks for $500,000; 15 staff were transferred to The Washington Post's SocialCode project for $12M, and a suite of patents was sold to LinkedIn for around $4 million.

There are reports that Digg had been trying to sell itself to a larger company since early 2006. The most notable attempt took place in July 2008, when Google entered talks to buy Digg for around $200M.

Google walked away from negotiations during the deal's due diligence phase, informing Digg on July 25 that it was no longer interested in the purchase.

Digg subsequently went into further venture capital funding, receiving $28.7M from investors such as Highland Capital Partners to move headquarters and add staff. Several months later, CEO Jay Adelson said Digg was no longer for sale.

On July 20, 2012, new owners Betaworks announced via Twitter that they were rebuilding Digg from scratch, "turning [Digg] back into a start-up".

Betaworks gave the project a six-week deadline. Surveys of existing users, through the website ReThinkDigg.com, were used to inform the development of a new user interface and user experience.

Digg tried rebooting itself by resetting its version number and launching Digg v1 a day early on July 31, 2012. It featured an editorially driven front page, more images, and top, popular and upcoming stories.

Users could access a new scoring system. There was increased support for sharing content to other social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Digg's front page content is selected by editors, instead of users on other communities like Reddit.


ControversiesJay Adelson. (via techinasia.com)

On May 1, 2007, an article appeared on Digg's homepage that contained the encryption key for the AACS digital rights management protection of HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

Then Digg, "acting on the advice of its lawyers," removed posting submissions about the secret number from its database and banned several users from submitting it. The removals were seen by many Digg users as a capitulation to corporate interests and an assault on free speech.

A statement by Jay Adelson attributed the article's take-down to an attempt to comply with cease and desist letters from the Advanced Access Content System consortium and cited Digg's Terms of Use as justification for taking down the article.

Although some users defended Digg's actions, as a whole the community staged a widespread revolt with numerous articles and comments made using the encryption key.

The scope of the user response was so great that one of the Digg users referred to it as a "digital Boston Tea Party".

The response was also directly responsible for Digg reversing the policy and stating: "But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you've made it clear. You'd rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won't delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be."

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

In the 1990s, Silicon Valley was obsessed with "portals": websites like Yahoo, Excite, and Lycos that were curated by a combination of human editors and algorithms. Founding Digg, Rose envisioned a different kind of website that put users themselves in charge. In an era before the web was dominated by Facebook and Twitter, that was a radical idea.

Digg quickly attracted loyal users who believed in Rose's vision of a user-controlled news site. They scoured the web for interesting reads. If enough other users pushed the "Digg" button on a story, it would get promoted to the Digg front page, where it would enjoy a flood of traffic.

Publishers across the web recognized this opportunity and began installing Digg buttons on their own sites, helping to boost Digg's profile.

By 2007, Digg had become one of the most popular ways to find technology news. But Rose wanted his site to be larger still, becoming everyone's favorite way to find interesting things to read online.

Brief History

Nov Digg was founded and started as an experiment.
Dec Kevin Rose creates the first profile and shows off Digg on The Screen Savers.

The first story is submitted to Digg.

Feb Digg 1.6: duplicate story detection
May Digg spy is released.

Digg 2.0 is released. friends feature, ajax buttons for Digg/bury, and a non-linear promotion algorithm is implemented.

Jul Digg v2 was released.

Diggnation podcast begins with Alex and Kevin.

Oct Raises $2.8M in venture capital.
Dec Digg Spy 2.0 released.

KoolAidGuy sega results in anti-spam tools being introduced.

Jan Top user Albertpacino resigns after accusations of him being on Digg payroll.

Digg Clouds is introduced, search is improved.

Acquisition rumors begin.

Feb Digg widget for blogs and share by email is released.

Report the rumor story as 'inaccurate' and the profanity filter introduced.

Mar New Digg comment system released, threaded, and Diggable comments.
Jun Digg v3 rolled out, site redesign, shouts, new categories: politics and sports.
Jul Digg Labs launches.
Aug Digg begins enforcing trademark rights.
Sep diggriver.com is launched for mobile devices.

#1 Story feature added later renamed as favorites.

Dec New features: Podcast, Videos, Top 10 sidebar, wide-screen support, and friends page.

Raises $8.5M in venture capital.

Feb Big Spy launched.
Apr Digg API is made public, Contest launched for the best app using the API.
May HD-DVD saga regarding the censorship of the leaked encryption key, Kevin yields to users and ends the censorship.
Jun Integration with the Facebook application is launched.
Jul App beta released on iPhone.

Ad partnership with Microsoft.


Digg's homepage was attracting over 236 million visitors annually, according to a Compete.com survey.

Feb Digg Town Halls.
May A new comments system is released.
Jul m.digg.com – The mobile site is released.
Aug Extension released on Firefox.

Digg dialog launched.

Sep $28.7M capital raised with Highland Capital Partners.
Oct Digg Spy and podcasts discontinued.
Apr DiggBar and short URL launched.
May Shouts feature is removed.

Connect with the Facebook app.

Aug Diggable ads implemented.
Oct Partners with WeFollow for categorizing users.
Nov Digg Trends launched.
Jan Launch extension on Chrome.
Mar The app is launched on the iPhone.
Apr Adelson stepped down as CEO, Kevin Rose became interim CEO.

The app is launched on Android.

Jul Digg version 4 alpha testing begins.
Aug Digg takes down new user registration and Digg's v4 release.
Sep Matt Williams replaces Kevin Rose as CEO.
Oct Digg lays off 37% of its staff along with refocusing the service.
Mar Kevin Rose resigns as CEO.
Aug Newswire is launched.
Sep Newsroom is launched.
Dec Digg Social Reader is introduced.

Andrew McLaughlin took over as CEO after Digg was sold to Betaworks and re-launched.

Mar Digg was working on its own RSS reader.

Digg Mobile is now in a relationship with Digg Social Reader.

Jul Digg announced its sale to Betaworks for $500,000.

New owners Betaworks announced via Twitter that they were rebuilding Digg from scratch.

Digg tried rebooting itself by resetting its version number and launching Digg v1.

Aug Digg releases v1 site reboot.
Jun Digg Reader launches.

Gary Liu took over as Digg CEO.


Joshua Auerbach took over as interim CEO.

Sep Digg announced that it would begin a data partnership with Gannett.

Michael O'Connor took over as CEO and continues as CEO today.

Mar Digg announced it would shut down its RSS reader, Digg Reader.

Network Features

Digg went through a dismal redesign that dramatically turned social-savvy folks away from using the platform.

Although many consider Digg dead and buried, check out these worthwhile enhancements that might bring it back to life.

Digg Newsrooms

Digg Newsrooms
																	Interface newsroom. (via bits.blogs.nytimes.com)

Digg launched “Newsrooms” (beta) which allows users to follow content submitted to those areas.

Digg Original Topics:

  • Business
  • Entertainment
  • Gaming
  • Lifestyle
  • Offbeat
  • Politics
  • Science
  • Sports
  • Technology
  • World News

While the Newsroom (beta) topic list is currently a fraction of StumbleUpon's “interests”, the diversity of new topics shows promise for more future options.

Digg has asked users to submit suggestions and feedback.

New Digg Submission Options

New Digg Submission Options
																	You must first be “following” a Newsroom. (via searchenginewatch.com)

New posts can now be submitted to a topic and a Newsroom; however, you must first be “following” a Newsroom to have it appear as an option. Once a post is submitted, the Newsroom is featured at the top of the post.

Digg Voting Options (For Submitted Posts)

Digg Voting Options (For Submitted Posts)
																	Display. (via searchenginewatch.com)

The voting button is now split into thumbs-down (Bury) or thumbs-up (Digg) icon options. Burying the post will reduce the count displayed.

Note: The “Bury” link has always been present with an “X” icon below the post description, but who paid attention to it there or knew was it was?!

Bringing light to the actual purpose of “bury” will likely lead to increased usage.

Display Of Social Proof Counts

Digg Voting Options (For Submitted Posts)
																	Show interaction count of social networks. (via searchenginewatch.com)

Digg applied social media optimization (SMO) to their posts and listings by displaying counts of views and social shares (including Facebook and Twitter) to serve as social proof that content is read- and share-worthy.

This will entice more click-throughs and votes and likely help good content more easily make its way to the “front page” of Newsroom listings.

Newsroom leaderboard & badge awards

“We don’t need no stinking badges!” Well, we might not need them, but Foursquare has proven that badges (though technically meaningless) entice user engagement. Digg is building on that concept by rewarding users with “badge awards” for interacting with posts.

These awards are available in different levels/quantities for Newsroom submissions/promotions, read stories (yes, just for viewing a story), Digg/Bury votes, comments, and replies.

In essence, it’s a loyalty program rewarding frequent and engaged Digg users. Note: Offering an award for burying posts was great timing with the new voting buttons. This will likely encourage users to actively vote content down as well as up, in turn helping to weed out not-so-great content.

Digg users acquiring award points are featured in the Newsroom right sidebars as “Leaders in Technology” (or respective Newsroom) with a link to view the full leaderboard. Since badges have an alluring draw for the competitively social media-savvy, expect this functionality to help increase interaction with your posts.



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