Digg, Inc.
Digg logo
Type of site
Social news
Available inEnglish
FoundedNovember 2004; 14 years ago (2004-11)
HeadquartersNew York City, United States[1]
Area servedWorldwide
OwnerBuySellAds.com, Inc.[2]
Founder(s)Jay Adelson & Kevin Rose[3]
Key peopleMichael O'Connor (CEO) [4]
RevenueUS$8.5 million (2008 est.)[5]
Employees26 (2015)[6]
Alexa rankIncrease 2,267 (October 2018)[7]
LaunchedDecember 5, 2004; 14 years ago (2004-12-05)
Current statusActive
Written inPython[8]

Digg is a 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. It was launched in its current form on July 31, 2012, with support for sharing content to other social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

It formerly had been a popular social news website, allowing people to vote web content up or down, called digging and burying, respectively. In 2012, Quantcast estimated Digg's monthly U.S. unique visits at 3.8 million.[9] Digg's popularity prompted the creation of similar social networking sites with story submission and voting systems such as Reddit.[10]

In July 2008, the former company took part in advanced acquisition talks with Google for a reported $200 million price tag, but the deal ultimately fell through. After a controversial 2010 redesign and the departure of co-founders Jay Adelson and Kevin Rose, in July 2012 Digg was sold in three parts: the Digg brand, website and technology were sold to Betaworks for an estimated $500,000;[11] 15 staff were transferred to The Washington Posts "SocialCode" for a reported $12 million; and a suite of patents was sold to LinkedIn for about $4 million.[12][13][14]

In September 2016, Digg announced that it would begin a data partnership with Gannett. The "seven figure" investment would give Gannett access to real-time trend analysis of Digg's 7.5 million pieces of content.[15]

In March 2018, Digg announced that it would shut down its RSS reader, Digg Reader.[16] Digg was purchased by BuySellAds, an advertising company, for an undisclosed amount in April 2018.[17]


Digg, Version 1.6

Digg started as an experiment in November 2004 by collaborators Kevin Rose, Owen Byrne, Ron Gorodetzky, and Jay Adelson. The original design by Dan Ries was free of advertisements. The company added Google AdSense early in the project but switched to MSN adCenter in 2007.[18]

The site's main function was to let users discover, share and recommend web content. Members of the community could submit a webpage for general consideration. Other members could vote that page up ("digg") or down ("bury"). Although voting took place on digg.com, many websites added "digg" buttons to their pages, allowing users to vote as they browsed the web. The end product was a series of wide-ranging, constantly updated lists of popular and trending content from around the Internet, aggregated by a social network.

Additions and improvements were made throughout the website's first years. Digg v2 was released in July 2005, with a new interface by web design company silverorange. New features included a friends list, and the ability to "digg" a story without being redirected to a success page. One year later, as part of Digg v3, the website added specific categories for technology, science, world and business, videos, entertainment and gaming, as well as a "view all" section that merged all categories. Further interface adjustments were made in August 2007.

By 2008, Digg's homepage was attracting over 236 million visitors annually, according to a Compete.com survey.[19] Digg had grown large enough that it was thought to affect the traffic of submitted webpages. Some pages experienced a sudden increase of traffic shortly after being submitted; some Digg users refer to this as the "Digg effect".


CEO Jay Adelson announced in 2010 that the site would undergo an extensive overhaul. In an interview with Wired magazine, Adelson stated that "Every single thing has changed" and that "the entire website has been rewritten."[20] The company switched from MySQL to Cassandra, a distributed database system; in a blog post, VP Engineering John Quinn described the move as "bold".[21] Adelson summed up the new Digg by saying, "We've got a new backend, a new infrastructure layer, a new services layer, new machines--everything."[20]

Adelson stepped down as CEO on April 5, 2010 to explore entrepreneurial opportunities, months before the launch date of Digg v4.[22] He had been the company's CEO since its inception. Kevin Rose, another original founder, stepped in temporarily as CEO and Chairman.

Digg's v4 release on August 25, 2010, was marred by site-wide bugs and glitches. Digg users reacted with hostile verbal opposition. Beyond the release, Digg faced problems due to so-called "power users" who would manipulate the article recommendation features to only support one another's postings, flooding the site with articles only from these users and making it impossible to have genuine content from non-power users appear on the front page. Frustrations with the system led to dwindling web traffic, exacerbated by heavy competition from Facebook, whose like buttons started to appear on websites next to Digg's.[23] High staff turnover included the departure of head of business development Matt Van Horn, shortly after v4's release.[24]

On September 1, 2010, Matt Williams took over as CEO, ending Rose's troubled tenure as interim chief executive.

In 2013, Andrew McLaughlin took over as CEO after Digg was sold to BetaWorks and re-launched.[25]

In 2015, Gary Liu took over as Digg CEO.[26]

In 2016, Joshua Auerbach took over as interim CEO.[27]

In 2017, Michael O'Connor took over as CEO, and continues as CEO today.

Sale and relaunch

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 Posts SocialCode project for $12 million; and a suite of patents were sold to LinkedIn for around $4 million.[12][13][14]

There are reports that Digg had been trying to sell itself to a larger company since early 2006.[28] The most notable attempt took place in July 2008, when Google entered talks to buy Digg for around $200 million. 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.[29] Digg subsequently went into further venture capital funding, receiving $28.7 million from investors such as Highland Capital Partners[30] to move headquarters and add staff.[31] Several months later, CEO Jay Adelson said Digg was no longer for sale.[32]

On July 20, 2012, new owners Betaworks announced via Twitter that they were rebuilding Digg from scratch, "turning [Digg] back into a start-up".[33] 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.[34][35][36]

Digg v1 launched 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.

Its offices are located at 50 Eldridge Street in Chinatown.


Digg Reader

In response to the announced shutdown of Google Reader, Digg announced on March 14, 2013 that it was working on its own RSS reader.[37] Digg Reader launched on June 28, 2013 as a web and iOS application. An Android app was released on August 29, 2013. Digg announced that it will shut down Digg Reader on March 26, 2018.[38]

Issues relating to former Digg website

Organized promotion and censorship by users

It was possible for users to have disproportionate influence on Digg, either by themselves or in teams. These users were sometimes motivated to promote or bury pages for political or financial reasons.

Serious attempts by users to game the site began in 2006.[39] A top user was banned after agreeing to promote a story for cash to an undercover Digg sting operation.[40] Another group of users openly formed a 'Bury Brigade' to remove "spam" articles about US politician Ron Paul; critics accused the group of attempting to stifle any mention of Ron Paul on Digg.[41]

Digg hired computer scientist Anton Kast to develop a diversity algorithm that would prevent special interest groups from dominating Digg. During a town hall meeting, Digg executives responded to criticism by removing some features that gave superusers extra weight, but declined to make "buries" transparent.[42]

However, later that year Google increased its page rank for Digg. Shortly afterwards, many 'pay for Diggs' startups were created to profit from the opportunity. According to TechCrunch, one top user charged $700 per story, with a $500 bonus if the story reached the front page.[43]

Digg Patriots was a conservative Yahoo! Groups mailing list, with an associated page on coRank, accused of coordinated, politically motivated behavior on Digg. Progressive blogger Ole Ole Olson wrote in August 2010 that Digg Patriots undertook a year-long effort of organized burying of seemingly liberal articles from Digg's Upcoming module. He also accused leading members of vexatiously reporting liberal users for banning (and those who seemed liberal), and creating "sleeper" accounts in the event of administrators banning their accounts. These and other actions would violate Digg's terms of usage.[44][45] Olson's post was immediately followed by the disbanding and closure of the DiggPatriots list, and an investigation into the matter by Digg.[46]

AACS encryption key controversy

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 for submitting it. The removals were seen by many Digg users as a capitulation to corporate interests and an assault on free speech.[47] 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.[48] Although some users defended Digg's actions,[49][50][51] as a whole the community staged a widespread revolt with numerous articles and comments made using the encryption key.[52][53] The scope of the user response was so great that one of the Digg users referred to it as a "digital Boston Tea Party".[54] 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."[55]

Digg v4

Digg's version 4 release was initially unstable. The site was unreachable or unstable for weeks after its launch on August 25, 2010. Many users, upon finally reaching the site, complained about the new design and the removal of many features (such as bury, favorites, friends submissions, upcoming pages, subcategories, videos and history search).[56] Kevin Rose replied to complaints on his blog, promising to fix the algorithm and restore some features.[57]

Alexis Ohanian, founder of rival site Reddit, said in an open letter to Rose:

... 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."[58]

Disgruntled users declared a "quit Digg day" on August 30, 2010, and used Digg's own auto-submit feature to fill the front page with content from Reddit.[59][60][61] Reddit also temporarily added the Digg shovel to their logo to welcome fleeing Digg users.[62]

Digg's traffic dropped significantly after the launch of version 4,[63] and publishers reported a drop in direct referrals from stories on Digg's front page.[64] New CEO Matt Williams attempted to address some of the users' concerns in a blog post on October 12, 2010, promising to reinstate many of the features that had been removed.


October 2004 Development on digg.com begins[65]
December 1, 2004 Kevin Rose creates the first profile
December 3, 2004 The first story is submitted to Digg[66]
December 5, 2004 Digg is open to public
December 13, 2004 Kevin Rose shows off Digg on The Screen Savers[67]
January 2, 2005 Comment section introduced for stories
February 28, 2005 Digg 1.6: duplicate story detection
March 19, 2005 Profile page now includes comment histories and sort by category
May 9, 2005 Digg spy is released
May 27, 2005 Digg 2.0 is released. Friends feature, ajax buttons for Digg/bury, and a non-linear promotion algorithm are implemented.
July 2, 2005 Diggnation podcast begins with Alex and Kevin[68]
October 2005 Raises $2.8 million in venture capital
December 2005 Digg Spy 2.0 released
December 2005 KoolAidGuy saga results in anti-spam tools being introduced[69]
January 17, 2006 Top user Albertpacino resigns after accusations of him being on Digg payroll[70]
January 18, 2006 Digg Clouds is introduced, Search is improved
January 25, 2006 Acquisition rumors begins
February 2, 2006 Report stories as 'inaccurate' and Profanity filters are introduced
February 15, 2006 Digg widget for blogs and share by email is released
March 1, 2006 New Digg Comment System Released, threaded and Diggable comments.
April 20, 2006 Digg Army Saga: after an exposé by forevergeek.com Kevin bans dozens of top users.[71]
June 26, 2006 Digg v3 rolled out, site redesign, shouts, new categories: politics and sports.
July 24, 2006 Digg Labs Launches
August 15, 2006 Thumbnails added
August 27, 2006 Digg begins enforcing trademark rights
September 6, 2006 User rebellion against Friends System and vote rigging results in promises about the diversity algorithms and other tools that were never implemented. Top user p9 resigns.
September 8, 2006 diggriver.com is launched for mobile devices
September 12, 2006 #1 Story feature added later renamed as favorites
December 18, 2006 New features: Podcast, Videos, Top 10 sidebar, wide-screen support and friends page
December 28, 2006 Raises $8.5 million in venture capital
February 2, 2007 Top Diggers list removed after user complaints[72]
February 2, 2007 Big Spy Launched
February 26, 2007 The new US Elections 2008 section creates lots of buzz
March 1, 2007 Blog post leads to concern about 'bury brigades'. Digg investigates and find no evidence for these allegations
April 19, 2007 Digg API is made public, Contest launched for best app using the API
May 1, 2007 HD-DVD saga regarding the censorship of the leaked encryption key, Kevin yield to users and ends the censorship
June 4, 2007 Facebook app is launched
June 21, 2007 New Comment System - Joe Stump edition. Instant backlash from community after slow loading.
July 10, 2007 iPhone App beta launched
July 25, 2007 Ad partnership with Microsoft
August 27, 2007 Customizable homepage options. Images and videos now back to homepage.
New Digg profiles, story suggestion, email alerts
November 20, 2007 Digg the Candidates: Presidential candidates get their Digg accounts
February 1, 2008 Digg Town Halls
May 15, 2008 New comments system is released
June 30, 2008 Recommendation engine is released
July 23, 2008 Facebook minifeeds of digg stories
July 31, 2008 m.digg.com - Mobile site is released
August 6, 2008 Firefox Extension released
August 25, 2008 Digg Dialogg
September 8, 2008 Digg warns users against script for auto digging friends stories.
September 24, 2008 $28.7 million capital raised with Highland Capital Partners.
October 3, 2008 A small number of power users are banned after they fail to follow guidelines against script digging.[73]
October 9, 2008 Digg Spy and podcasts discontinued
December 18, 2008 Related stories and "People who Dugg this also Dugg" boxes added to individual stories
April 2, 2009 DiggBar and short url launched
April 9, 2009 New Search
May 6, 2009 Facebook Connect
May 26, 2009 Shouts feature is removed
August 6, 2009 Diggable ads implemented
October 16, 2009 Partners with WeFollow for categorizing user in the upcoming version 4 release
November 4, 2009 Digg Trends launched
January 17, 2010 Chrome extension launched
March 23, 2010 iPhone app is launched
April 1, 2010 Android app is launched
April 5, 2010 Jay Adelson Steps Down as CEO, Kevin Rose becomes interim CEO
July 2, 2010 Digg version 4 alpha testing begins
August 3, 2010 Digg takes down new user registration in preparation for Digg 4.0[74]
August 25, 2010 Digg v4 is released: My News and Publisher Streams launched
September 1, 2010 Matt Williams replaces Kevin Rose as CEO
October 27, 2010 Digg lays off 37% of its staff along with refocusing the service[75]
March 18, 2011 Kevin Rose resigns from his role in the company[76]
August 9, 2011 Newswire is launched.
September 20, 2011 Newsroom is launched.
December 22, 2011 Digg Social Reader is introduced.
March 6, 2012 Digg Mobile is now in a relationship with Digg Social Reader.
July 12, 2012 Digg announced its sale to Betaworks for $500,000.[77]
July 20, 2012 Digg announces new site redesign in progress, "rebooting" the site back to v1 as a "startup," slated for release on August 1, 2012.[33][34][35][36]
August 1, 2012 Digg releases v1 site reboot[78]
June 28, 2013 Digg Reader launches[79]
March 17, 2017 Michael O'Connor replaces Gary Liu as the CEO of Digg[80]

See also


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External links

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