Digg was founded in 2004 and was soon at the vanguard of the rising ‘Web 2.0’ trend for websites that allowed users to add their own content and interact with content from others. At its peak it was valued at as much as $160 million but its influence declined with the rise of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.
The Wall Street Journal said that Digg had received higher offers but sold to Betaworks because it had “the best plan for reviving its brand”. John Borthwick, the founder of Betaworks will take over as Digg’s CEO.
“Over the last few months, we’ve considered many options of where Digg could go,” said Matt Williams, Digg’s current chief executive, “and frankly many of them could not live up to the reason Digg was invented in the first place – to discover the best stuff on the web. We wanted to find a way to take Digg back to its startup roots.”
He added: “Coming soon, Betaworks will unveil a new cloud-based version of Digg to complement the current News.me iPhone and iPad apps. Stay tuned.”
Digg still has around seven million users a month but it has been struggling for years. In 2008 there were reports that Digg would sell to Google and Mike Arrington, the former TechCrunch blogger, has claimed that the founders were trying to find a buyer for the site as long ago as 2006.
The site had a major redesign in 2010 but not long after that Jay Adelson, one of Digg’s founders, stepped down as chief executive to be replaced by Kevin Rose, another Digg founder. Rose’s spell in charge lasted just five months before he was replaced by Matt Williams, who cut a third of the staff.
Today’s sale is a far cry from 2006, when Kevin Rose appeared on the cover of Business Week with a headline referencing the site’s then-valuation: “How this kid made $60 million in 18 months.”