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Betaworks has acquired the core assets of Digg (betaworks.com)
251 points by mikerice on July 12, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 129 comments

Reddit won the game, slow and steady. Reddit now literally powers the generation of news cycles across the blogerverse. BuzzFeed? HuffPo? Gawker? TheDaily? Reddit, yesterday.

First thing first is rescue the culture. Digg engineering already fled, the peanut gallery in the valley keeps squawking with delight about your failure, and all you have left is some nicely designed pages showing double digit gains on stale links that's a shade away from being as if they were spun up by a Russian spam squad. Save yourself, redo the logo, redo the color scheme, don't let legacy drag you down.

Second thing is do some soul searching, figuring out what layer Digg wants to play in. Links aggregation? Community building and content creation? Traffic? Attention? Engagement? That elusive ad sharing model for content creators?

After that figure out for who. Reddit's core is dying, and eventually it'll be fully crowded out by the mainstreaming of rage comics, aww pics, and counter-Tumblr-pseudo-nerdy programming. Do you target those people, the walking wounded much like Slashdot?

Or do you go after the youths, the ones addicted to Instagrams, 9gag, imgur, but bored of their Facebook feeds? Then play the waiting game. New is everything old, after all.

The game's so different now from 2005. All the majors have feeds now. All the majors have figured out sharing, commenting, and extracting action on a story item. On top of that you're competing against mobile guys like Flipboard.

This is one of those situations where execution is easier than creating an idea. What is Digg's $1MM idea? Good luck with that because Digg needs to be futuristic but also really lucky twice being at the right place, the right time, with the right idea. Once you're lucky, twice you're good, right?

I bet this kind of flame out, this one thing keeps Mark Zuckerberg from sleeping.

No it doesn't.

Go to the front page of reddit right now and try to find me a piece of news.

I see 2 items out of 25 links.

One of them is a [linkbait title] story about wikileaks winning a case against VISA (in iceland).

The other is about a Canadian supreme court ruling.

The replies you'll get are "you make your own reddit, just remove the popular subreddits!" but you're right. reddit is usable for hardcore users that want to invest real time into their experience, it's atrocious for casual users (that don't care for the meme spam). There is a large hole that (new) Digg could fill.

I agree, but I think that Reddit is only usable for a specific subset of hardcore users.

Unfortunately, Reddit's admins chose to take a hands-off approach to policing bad behavior in the community. As a result, Reddit regulars have to guard themselves against providing enough information in their comments to attract the attention of a diligent troll.

I had a 5-year-old account on Reddit, and had been active on there from just about the beginning. I had hand-picked subreddits and the like. But, ultimately, it was better just to delete my account entirely and become a casual reader.

Now Reddit is basically the daily equivalent of reading the comics section in the newspaper.

I think Digg has a huge opportunity here. I doubt that they will take advantage of it though.

I had a 5-year-old account on Reddit, and had been active on there from just about the beginning. I had hand-picked subreddits and the like. But, ultimately, it was better just to delete my account entirely and become a casual reader.

Wow, could you fill us in on exactly what happened?

I doesn't matter that Reddit itself is only usable as a news source for hardcore users, if news stories show up there first and then are shared to a wider audience.

That's precisely why it is the source of stories: there is a myriad of communities with the wildest varying interests, and that's where things grow before going mainstream.

I'm not sure that 'hardcore' is the right requirement for Reddit usability. It takes all of 5 minutes for a new user to register an account, then customize their subreddit subscriptions.

That said, it's the default front page that provides new users with their first Reddit experience, and sets the tone for their overall impression of the site, and when they've got r/pics, r/WTF, r/politics, and r/atheism on the default frontpage, I don't really understand what kind of userbase they're trying to build; everything on the default frontpage is either vapid image-memes or vitriolic flamewars.

What else could the defaults be, though? The good communities are smaller and better moderated, but they don't have the resources to police anyone who signs up for an account. As it is they get the users who bother to change their subscriptions from the default, and that's an useful filter.

Nudging the participants in some of the big communities into better commenting behaviour seems achievable (less users go vote in comment threads, most communities manage being self-policing), but driving out the meme generators isn't achievable from votes only. They are what the lowest-common denominator of the user base wants to see, and what they upvote.

On the other hand some of the smaller communities would benefit from more recruitment, particularly of dedicated users, but that doesn't have to come from the frontpage. Tapping into other social networks, via things like twitter sharing and per-subreddit twitter accounts (like StackExchange does), would be a good avenue for that.

I think you're missing how efficient Reddit is at turning casual users into hardcore users. I can't put my finger on how its done but Reddit is excellent at sucking people in and getting them to come back and come back until they've become hardcore users.

I've been on Reddit for four years, and I don't think that it's usable for even hardcore users. The people attracted by the front page invariably find their way to the subreddits too. And the overall mood of the place encourages even the best users to be goofy.

There are still good submissions in very small and highly technical subreddits, but those get very few posts.

I visit reddit because I'm honest-to-god addicted, but at some point my self respect is going to win out.

You can still find news on reddit at http://www.reddit.com/r/truereddit

You look for r/TrueReddit

TrueReddit's gone downhill too (though it's better than a majority of Reddit.) It's hard to sustain and moderate a healthy 128K-member community.

This is obnoxiously false.

If no one liked reddit, no one would be there. The majority of current users came from digg. You can watch the decline in content and maturity since then (and before then as digg was shedding users before they flipped the switch on diggv4). The content APPEALS to them which is why reddit keeps gaining users.

The "real" or "hardcore" users, aka the ones that have been there since when the content was good and relevant, are smart enough to find subreddits that appeal to them because they like the style and functionality of reddit.

I will agree that digg could go back to its tech roots and gain back some of that crowd. I myself have found tech related news on digg that was not posted to reddit, at all.

That's true, if nobody liked reddit nobody would be there. That does not mean that reddit isn't missing out of millions more users that are driven away from the site because they don't enjoy the "popular" content but don't understand how they can customise their own reddit, or they don't want to work to get reddit to be a site that they like.

> The "real" or "hardcore" users, aka the ones that have been there since when the content was good and relevant, are smart enough to find subreddits that appeal to them because they like the style and functionality of reddit.

That's a god awful assumption to make.

I actually think Reddit is quite optimized and not missing out on too many users. The Reddit homepage can take on the following states:

1) As it currently is dominated by memes and linkbait articles 2) Links to actual news and good content 3) A combination of 1 and 2

Out of the 3, my guess is #1 drives the most traffic. If you're goal is to get the most traffic, then almost by definition you're trying to get popular content as the default state.

Really? The people that were there in the beginning to see subreddits develop... aren't smart enough to "search for subreddits" and find ones that are interesting? Or aren't involved enough to find those subreddits organically?

Maybe it's a bad assumption, but I guess I don't give a shit. This whole "we have to cater to the lowest denominator is the whole thing we're trying to avoid, is it not? Digg was fine when they went after geeks. As they tried to make it social and opened it for massive appeal it went down the shitter. I have no problem with the more refined subreddits staying hidden. If people can't manage to find their way there, they probably shouldn't be there.

I don't think the point is whether we care or not. The claim was that Reddit powers the news cycles and gets them before Gawker, HuffPo and all the other sites.

I'd bet a majority of reddit users have never heard of digg.

I'm not sure it's really driving news cycles, but I have vaguely noticed reblogging, even from high-profile bloggers (e.g. at mainstream newspaper/magazine websites) being keyed off stuff that gets big at Reddit, if not first, then at least before they blog it. I wouldn't be surprised if some of them are monitoring relevant subreddits for reblogging ideas.

You'll see something get a few hundred comments on Reddit, often in one of the non-default subreddits, then the next day there's an article on an Atlantic or NYTimes or HuffPo blog about it. It'd be interesting to trace who influenced whom, since I don't have hard numbers, and am not 100% sure where Reddit fits into the food chain. I'm certain there's some food chain though, because some of it is very unlikely to be coincidence; e.g. I'll read some interesting "weird historical episode" tidbit someone pulled out of Google Books one day, then a day later a mainstream news organization is blogging about this very same weird-news tidbit from 1913, which they clearly borrowed from somewhere (whether Reddit, Twitter, some kind of analytics data, etc., I'm not sure).

Okay, Eternalwar ended up on the front page, ended up on news outlets all over and even got a response from Sid Meier. From a reddit post.

Then there was the girls graduation present where her dad got all her teachers from kindergarden to graduation to give her encouraging words. This hit my local newspaper about 5 days after I saw it on Reddit.

Soft news has basically turned into trawling reddit and twitter for popular things.

You're conflating two things. Reddit doesn't often break news, Twitter does that more in real time with its immediacy and reach.

Just like Hacker News is/was to TechCrunch, Reddit generates a news cycle, as in right now across the world there are cadres of journalists and bloggers using Reddit to source and/or get ideas on what to write and feed into the long tail.

No thats not the case. Reddit is not that important. But Digg is dead.

Reddit is a newer version of big board community. Have you participated in an online community?

To a segment of people, http://www.big-boards.com/, it is their life.

Any kind of community can become very addictive, especially to people that are going through a lonely period with a lot of free time.

I know of somebody that's deeply engrossed with Skyscraper City even though she isn't an architect, just because it has an encouraging community and she has a 4 hour commute and works in multiple cities (which makes it very hard to get into an offline community)

It kills me to see the reddit-hate here cloud obvious facts. There are a number of things that reddit has gotten good worldwide publicity for or has had a hand in shaping. That's not true for a large number of sites. In terms of what reddit is, it is important.

My Reddit frontpage has plenty of news stories, but those are the subreddits I happen to subscribe to. I'm sure the news agencies aren't subscribed to the "Advice Animals" subreddit.

I have a really healthy RES filter list that makes reddit better for me.

I browse /r/all all the time with this filter on and get good content. Reddit is hell without it. I wish though that I could ban rage comics all together.

Another thing that would make reddit better would be to allow karma growth on self posts. If you id, there would be less imagifying of text for posting to IMGUR so the karma counts.

Some times though, it helps to filter out imgur.com completely and you get a nice view...

That doesn't seem like his point. I think he is pointing out that digg changed too much and changed too much of the UX and people got fed up and moved to the next best thing.

I don't think he's saying Zuckerberg is worried about reddit, he's saying Zuckerberg is worried about being a fad or a blip. And he should be. More than one metric is indicating that Facebook usage per-user is diminishing, or at least peaking.

There's a great post by a redditor that explains how Reddit has become "anti-content": http://www.reddit.com/r/circlebroke/comments/vqy9y/dear_circ...

Very good analysis there. I wonder whether # of eyeballs is more important that accurate ranking algorithms. Viewers are washed, rinsed and asked to repeat.

It's pretty much just ripped from Paul Graham's essay "what I've learned from hackernews": http://paulgraham.com/hackernews.html

> Reddit's core

What core? /r/reddit died a long time ago; not 'died' as in "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded" but died as in no longer exists.

It's all subreddits now. You can have your own list of subreddits, none of them 'dying' or 'uncool', all of them interesting to you.

    Reddit now literally powers the generation of news cycles across the blogerverse.
I didn't know Reddit had their own power plant.

Is that a joke, or are you unfamiliar with the many definitions of power?

It was a joke (a bad one, clearly), but it was at the definition of the word literally. The OP presumably meant figuratively.

Using a different definition of the word power doesn't make it any less literal.

The OP is fine. You're being overly pedantic. People have been using the word this way for (literally) hundreds of years.

Moreover, the truly literal definition of the word is from the Latin for "letter" and means something like "letter-for-letter truth." So using this word to describe anything other than a written document is "wrong" on some level. But language doesn't really work that way.

Google "definition literally". It's depressing, but that's the way the cookie bounces: language mutates, for better and for worse.

    "Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling."
Well that just makes me sad. We don't really have another word to use in its stead, do we?

You could say "for all intents and purposes" or "practically".

> The News.me team will take Digg back to its essence: the best place to find, read and share the stories the internet is talking about. Right now.

With my cynicism hat on nice and tight, it seems a bit late for that. Digg WAS, in its heyday, the best place to find and share online content. But as the management undertook on iffy decision after another, and as imitators sprung up left right and centre, it lost its place in the online world. Sad.

We have plenty of content aggregators now. The kind of people Digg 5.0 (?!) will target are probably more than happy finding their entertainment through Twitter, Facebook, and dare I say it, Reddit.

Having said that, I for one wish the new team all the luck in the world in trying to get the site back to its former glory, and I look forward to trying it out.

There is always room for a better content aggregator, reddit etc. all have their own set of flaws and problems. If the Betaworks team have the ideas to make a great content aggregator then purchasing the Digg brand is absolutely brilliant. The hard part of launching a new site is traction, if they can launch with "the new Digg" (and the site is impressive) that $500k will be the best $500k they could possibly spend on marketing. Techcrunch, Mashable, Reddit... it would be the front page of everywhere, "Digg crashed and burned and after being bought for $500k it's back and it's amazing!", hell maybe even CNN and the BBC would cover it. Not only that they have the entire userbase of Digg to market their new site to. A social news site biggest problem is getting users; this solves that problem (and them some)

If we assume that instead of the thought process being "We can have Digg for $500k... should we do it?" the thought process was actually: "We have this brilliant idea for content aggregation, how can we most effectively implement and market this?" then it sounds like a much safer and sensible thing to do.

I liked Reddit back when it was less well known. Now, it just appears that the content appeals to the lowest common denominator. Some of the content is still great (i.e. r/dwarffortress), but a lot of the site has degraded into junk. If anyone has some good subreddits that are still decent, I'd love to know what they are.

I don't use reddit so have a fairly basic understanding of how it works but looking at all these replies about subreddits, it struck me that basically reddit is a web2.0 version of usenet. So I guess that means good content is there, you just need to know where to look :)

P.S. for the redditors: I have nothing against reddit, it's just that I'm already drowning in information and never found the time to get in to it.

That's actually a pretty decent analogy. Obviously the focus on posting links and ranking and such is different, but the user experience of someone totally new is similar. As is the searching for tiny pockets of awesome in a sea of idiocy.

Heh heh I love your phrase "searching for tiny pockets of awesome in a sea of idiocy" - that pretty much sums up my entire relationship with the internet :D


Reddit is what you make it. Nothing more, nothing less.

/r/askscience and /r/depthhub are pretty consistently good.

It's all about the subreddits


/r/securityanalysis is excellent for those interested in analyzing financial securities. It's pretty narrow, but just shows that pockets of deep content do exist on a mostly frivolous site.

there are a lot of excellent small subreddit, but their appeal will obviously depend on whether you share that subinterest. some good larger ones are /r/askscience, /r/printsf and /r/coding.

/r/learnprogramming is a great place to learn and contribute

Well, it's kind of specific, but r/TheoryofReddit is a very interstitial sub that often deals with the questions we're talking about here. I find it to be quality. Here is an interesting comment regarding the submission problem: http://www.reddit.com/r/ideasfortheadmins/comments/rbwn4/ran...

You could also check out Hubski. It's a much smaller new community with completely different social feed mechanisms. I like it quite a bit, though the volume of users is small (but growing). The owner coded it from the open source HN code. There have always been differences in the features and mechanics, but mk just completed a redesign that completely removed even stylistic similarities.

Time to hit 'reply' and see how badly I mangled this post typing on my phone...

foodforthought truereddit, economics

and if you unsubscribe from pics, funny, adviceanimals, aww, and atheism (regardless of whether you are or not, it's just not high quality content), you'll find that things suddenly get a whoooole lot better

This might be the first permissible use of quickmeme on HN ;)

I've got my reddit page nice and customized so I see exactly what I'm interested in appear on the front page every morning through specific subreddits

I come to HN for a bit more focused conversation on industry related stuff

I don't think Digg really has a place anywhere between those two

Yea, this reminds me of the MS/IBM DOS 4.0 fiasco, though in this case it is much worse.

the cost of switching with content aggregators is so low, and there is a network effect in the switch, so I would never write digg off. just thinking about it, I would probably give whatever they build next a chance

This is a case of a company having delusions of grandeur. Instead of humming along with 10 or so employees raking in cash hand-over fist, they tried to grow as fast and as large as possible to try to revolutionize news. Instead, Reddit did the former and is stable and profitable; it never pretends to be something it's not.

Not all companies are going to change the world, nor should they. I see Facebook and Twitter making the same mistakes. Perhaps Facebook is a great place to keep in touch with friends but nothing more. Perhaps Twitter is simply a great replacement for blogging, nothing more. Instead of filling their niches and quietly making a small number of employees very wealthy, they try to become these massive institutions that are reliant on very fickle user bases. It's a house of cards.

As someone who used Digg and Reddit from their infancy I have been able to observe when and how Digg fell from #1. I don't think they failed because they were having delusions of grandeur.

The 1st mistake that Digg made was the introduction of power users. As a power user your stories were artificially boosted to the front page. After this happened, I noticed a huge decline in quality where the front page became mostly populated by articles from cracked and huffingtonpost. This quote from another user summed up the situation.

In version 3 around 100 diggers ran 80% of the front page – to get on the front page you had to cover Kevin getting a blow job from Stallman, or get a power user to submit your story. At that point Digg was not a democracy at all, but a curated list by paid Digg pros who shilled for hire. If you were a nice guy, or a tech publisher, you had power digger friends who would submit your stuff for you for free.

Then there is the 2nd mistake that everyone knows about. Digg 4.0, the last mistake that finally made Reddit bigger than Digg. Large domains Engadget and Mashable flooded the front page with their auto-submitted stories. It was then that Kevin Rose betrayed the power users for large publishers, just as he had betrayed the regular users for power users many years ago.

If Digg had not done any of this, there would have been a very good chance that they would still have been the largest aggregator today.

Please; power users were controlling the content on the site long before they turned 3.0 on. It was a well known fact that a small minority of users controlled the vast majority of the front page content (mrbabyman, for instance).

I know this. I was just quoting someone else.

I remember when power users came out far before v3. That was when I started browsing Reddit more often.

It's the nature of venture capital: shower founders with money, now they're burning through it and they are in your debt. Either they find a way to make it big, or the startup is driven to the ground.

From WSJ: "The price was just $500,000, three people familiar with the matter said—a pittance for a company that raised $45 million from prominent investors including LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Marc Andreessen."


It "feels" like a reasonable shorthand for company outcomes is: an outcome is either (a) a categorical success for the investor, or (b) might as well be written off entirely.

With that feeling in mind, the fact that the acquisition was for $500k and not $1MM or $10MM or $40MM is irrelevant: any number falling outside bucket (a) is a loss. And you don't get into venture capital without being able to metabolize a loss.

The people that plowed money into Digg had a charter to put ~$45MM at risk. That was their job: find a place for $45MM to live and, probably, die. One major investment in 10 generates a win that pays for the other 9. So: fuck it, right?

$500K? I cant still remember the first time I saw this cover: http://workbench.cadenhead.org/media/businessweek-kevin-rose...

That WSJ article attributes Digg's fall from grace to "rivals like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc." and makes no mention of the Digg v4 redesign disaster. That was what did them in more than anything.

EDIT: The story has been updated with a new paragraph, "A series of redesigns..."

It was going downhill long before v4 IMO.

Agreed, but for many (including myself), the Digg v4 fiasco was the last straw, and there was an organized exodus of users at that point.

Yes it was. Remember the digg bar?


digg had reached a local maximum prior to v4 that wasn't sufficient for the amount of money they had raised.

The WSJ's failure to mention reddit speaks to how little they know about the situation beyond the numbers.

"Newer social news website such as Reddit Inc. also stole some of Digg's thunder. Last December, Reddit drew more visitors than Digg for the first time, according to comScore, and since then it has maintained that lead."

"None of Digg's remaining employees will join Betaworks as part of the acquisition."

what did they acually buy? The know how? The technology? None of that is revolutionary today. And there is no community on digg right now whatsoever (unlike /. which still lives its own life).

Maybe the name is worth something, but I don't really think that it matters that much.

Well, Digg still have a lot of visitors, is a well-known page with high PageRank (8). So for only 500.000, I consider it a good deal.

The domain name and brand recognition. For $500K, cheap.

yeah, something shady must be going on.

My guess is that you'll find similar people on Digg's and News.me boards. And this was just a way to a) write off Digg as a permanent loss off the books and b) transfer those assets cheaply to the other company, which might boost them from being a loser to being a winner

Noone sells Digg for $500K...not unless they are millions and millions in debt

7 million uniques a month disagree.


That is nothing! I am installing cisco switch gear as we speak that s worth more than that!

For a 4-letter domain I say it's quite a bit.

Digg is ranked 192 on Alexa. Its Google Page Rank is 8. And the name is very popular and it used to have a huge following. Once the media get's a hold of this story (well it already has), tons of people will visit it just to see what they do with it. Plus, they still have a ton of traffic, of course not as much as they used to.

True, I hadn't thought of the domain acquisition, but thats because digg is effectively dead to me.

I can't think of any service that could be built out that will benefit from that domain name though, s even for a four letter domain - I think they threw $500K down the tubes.

$500K is a steal for a well-known brand, and 2M-4M monthly US visitors (funny how Compete reports higher traffic vs. Reddit while Quantcast reports 1/4x the traffic of Reddit)

Just to clarify - they raised 45m

So either they spent 45m in past 4 years,

or they did not draw down all of it

or someone paid 1/2m for 10m in the bank?

Or am I fundamentally missing something obvious

I'd wager they spent it. Crunchbase reports they had 60 employees at some update in the past, so it was probably higher than that at the peak. 60 employees alone probably cost them $6 to $8 million per year depending on all the perks. You could easily vaporize $25 to $35 million over four years in San Francisco on 60 employees.

But keep in mind that $45 million wasn't raised in the past four years.

On 9/08 they raised $28.7 million, and then another $5 million on 7/11. So they've raised $33.7m over the last four years.

Sorry for my ignorance. I've been searching for exactly what went wrong with the Digg redesign, but I can't find anything that really spells it out. Something with side-by-side comparisons or a deeper analysis than "Users leave in drove after Digg redesign that alienates user base." How did it alienate those users? Of course I was aware that it happened, but because I wasn't part of the community, I never understood what it was, exactly.

Also, is this an example that illustrates why craigslist refuses to redesign their site? A redesign really could spell the end of craiglist like digg.

The Digg redesign had any number of problems, most of them inherent in any project to completely reimplement a complex piece of software that already has a large user base. Bugs, missing features, etc.

IMO, the larger problem was one of philosophy. Was the site primarily designed for people generating the traffic or those receiving it? How do you deal with people gaming the system? Digg chose to side with the people gaming the system, presumably because it was a more obvious path to profitability. (Digg had a large staff and ridiculously high burn rate) Prior to the v4 redesign, however, there was at least the illusion that regular users' submissions and voting mattered. Digg v4 simply eliminated the roundabout of gaming the system by making votes almost irrelevant; publishers and marketeers could simply pipe all of their content directly to the top of the frontpage by gathering a sufficiently large number of followers. It made the site little more than a pseudo-RSS frontend for content farms.

Reddit has been successful by fighting a vigorous, if behind-the-scenes, war against spamming and gaming. It may be regressing toward the mean, but at least it's a mean defined by the users rather than a spammer.

"redesign" here means something more radical. Sponsored stories from partnered news outlets got auto-pushed to the front page, hand-made tweaks to the secret-sauce algorithm were used to suppress a very noticeable user protest (links to outside discussion of the redesign, and a lot of links to reddit), which turned into a revolt. All comments were lost (a very small subset was restored from somewhere, but there was no proper backup discipline). A week or so after that, someone who visited the front page would only see posts with a few hundred upvotes, and sponsored posts.

Digg was ailing before that (as I recall, the Digg Patriots and the clique dynamics were a factor), but traffic took an abrupt dive at that point.

Artistic rendering of the debacle: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/25036088@N06/3424896427/siz... https://secure.flickr.com/photos/25036088@N06/4192738180/siz... https://secure.flickr.com/photos/25036088@N06/6642064613/siz...


I believe there were "sponsored" posts as well.

Why? Reddit is like Digg 2 now. Back in the day Digg was for dudebros who wanted to swap girls gone wild links while Reddit was the "isn't Haskell grand?" place. But since about 2008 or so when Reddit rubbed up against Digg and 4chan and a big chunk of their user base rubbed off and clung to it, Digg has been made wholly redundant.

I used to love digg in the early days. People point to the v4 revision as being the final nail, but they started wavering and losing the magic literal years before that.

FWIW, Pligg (the digg clone CMS) looks like it's getting a twitter bootstrap upgrade. I've been wanting to roll my own "digg/reddit/HN" for ages. Maybe now's the time. http://www.pligg.com/demo/

FYI: Reddit is open source. You don't have to roll your own, just go git it: https://github.com/reddit/

FWIW, I found Pligg a lot easier to configure and set up when I needed to create a quick intranet news portal last year.

Fair enough - I've played with Pligg too, and found it really easy. I've never tried to deploy reddit, though. I imagine it to be much more robust & therefore complicated...

I had a pligg site setup a while back for 'sci-fi' news. It was a fairly poorly implemented PHP application at the time and not nearly as clean and neat as Digg. However, that demo shows that they have been putting a lot of work into it since then.

hey Chris - how ya been?

for me the problem with digg started when they took down th leader board. It was what a few months later that "gamification" was the buzz word. Digg just effed that one up.

I am incredibly skeptical about the plausibility of resurrecting Digg, but for 500k I sure hope they do. It was my first social media home and it would be nice to be able to go back to what it was; not a marketing front end for corporate prostitution.

Fingers crossed, but betaworks seems to want to take Digg in the direction it should have gone during the v2->v3 upgrade.

Not a hope.

And the fact that they are going to fold it into news.me to send links of articles that others are reading sounds retarded.

Oh damn, if they integrate that into news.me, they've shot themselves with a $500,000 proverbial bullet in the proverbial foot.

At this point Reddit can probably not be killed. The only hope that betaworks could have at success is a vanilla relaunch of Digg, minus the gaming problems and "advertising for hire" functionality. Remember Digg when Dragon Age: Origins came out?

Digg is a shadow of an online community, but its fall gave us War, a three-part social media epic by ncomment: https://secure.flickr.com/photos/25036088@N06/3424896427/siz...

I don't doubt that something can be done with it, but I'm dubious of Digg as a brand these days. Similar to MySpace, it's lost all the credibility it once had.

The first iteration of digg looks awfully like reddit.


From techcrunch: "Betaworks, says Digg, will soon unveil a new “cloud-based version of Digg” that will complement News.me’s iPhone and iPad apps" Not sure what this means, Digg was never a desktop client. It's betaworks using lingo that will grab the attention of non tech readers to suggest something interesting is going on. But it isn't. Just like with a lot of their other stuff. Bitly is a simple concept which has been done many times. News.me is nothing interesting at all, just an attempt to rip off Flipboard. Chartbeat is just another way to visualize data that's available by so many other means. Nothing original with betaworks.

the german Digg clone Yigg.de also sold today. Funny how that timing works out. (http://yigg.de/nachrichten/2012/07/12/ekaabo-uebernimmt-yigg)

This should be a film, the story has everything: business press coverage, the BluRay code event, death threats to the founder, a near-deal with Google, the exit of the CEO, the 4.0 debacle, the company downsizes, the founder leaves, the company struggles, then the company sells it's shell.

I hope BusinessWeek does a piece on this.

$500k: hard to tell if they've over- or under- paid. What's the Digg Balance Sheet look like? How about the last year of cash flow statements? Without those, its impossible to evaluate the worthiness of the deal.

Note it's 'acquiring the assets' rather than 'acquiring the company'.

In general this means the steaming wreck of a company will be left behind, asset stripped. In other words, if Digg owes you money, you're not going to be able to ask the new owners for it.

It also means it's up to them which employees (if any) they take on.

This is a sale of brand name, domain name, IP and probably very little else.

the trouble is that fixing Digg means getting rid of the existing user base

Ya, Kevin & Jay tried that back in 2006 - worked out real well for them.

they gotta get them to sign a statement that they'll click on ads

What existing user base?

the people that vote up lots of awful content I can't stand looking at

Spammers spamming spammers.

I wonder what they consider the "core assets" to be; some specific items I'm curious about: domain name, codebase, hosting contracts, Aeron chairs, employees.

I imagine it'll end up costing them quite a bit more than $500k when the dust settles... Digg probably has quite a bit of debt racked up by now.

news.me + digg could be good

The only reason it's $500k and not $0 is to save a small amount of face. Digg is losing money, and has never made money in its entire history, so it's going to cost Betaworks a lot more than $500k to take it over.

Digg bleeds money because they're overstaffed for what they do. Reddit ate their lunch with five paid people, while Digg was employing dozens. I think they had over 100 people on staff at their peak. Even now, when reddit has an order of magnitude more traffic than Digg ever had (1 billion+ pageviews a month), reddit runs with a staff of about 10 people. Digg probably still has a whole lot of dead weight, even at this point when the whole thing is only worth two and a half good developers salaries.

Absolutely agree. Digg should be run by 3 to 5 people tops at its current size.

It'll still cost more than $500k to transition the service to whatever it is they have in mind. It'll probably cost more than $500k just to trim Digg down to size.

Yeah, but reddit appears to have been staffed with employees who worked all hours of the night and day for a salary; see blog posts from before reddit gold. That's not sustainable and unless you have a line on a set of really smart suckers who want to work way too much for the same money then can get elsewhere working half the hours or on call... you need more employees.

Two points:

1. I don't think that people, working all hours, are actually significantly more productive than those working regular hours. In fact, in knowledge work, there's good evidence that you only get two or three hours of real productivity per day, no matter how long you keep banging your head on the keyboard. 2. Even if reddit developers and staff were twice as productive as Digg folks, that only indicates that Digg had five times too many people (instead of ten times too many).

If they're not taking on any of the employees, what are their costs? It's not clear that they're even keeping the website up or that it won't be a rather radically different product. All they've said is that it will be a 'cloud-based version of Digg' which means nothing.

It's probably a brand they're slapping onto something they already have in the works. How is it going to cost them a lot more to take it over?

To take over something like Digg? Everything costs.

Legal costs. Infrastructure costs. Clearing out employees and transitioning with new employees to take over and operate it. New product development to change the product into whatever they have in mind.

It's ridiculously easy to blow $500k doing nothing in tech when salaries run $100k with total compensation. And that's just the employee costs.

It'll cost Betaworks several million dollars to get Digg the way they want it, all in, including the purchase price.

How the mighty have fallen...

How much do you think it would cost to buy reddit?

Problem with buying Reddit is that you would still never really own reddit.

If digg's fall has taught us anything, it's that heavily community-driven sites are owned by the community. Try to make any major/unpopular changes in direction or business, and the entire site may come crumbling down.

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