Once valued at $200 million, Digg sells for peanuts

Remember Digg? There was a time when half the web was peppered with Digg widgets, the idea being that a few up-votes might bring a flood of viewers from the social media juggernaut. The site’s founder, Kevin Rose, even made the cover of BusinessWeek in August 2006. The tagline was, “How this kid made $60 million in 18 months,” and the cover story affirmed, “People in the know say Digg is easily worth $200 million.”

Six years later, Rose is long gone from the company, and Digg has just been sold—apparently for much less than that lofty price. Betaworks announed yesterday that it “acquired the core assets of Digg,” and a Wall Street Journal story quoting “three people familiar with the matter” claims the purchase price was a scant $500,000. That small mound of cash reportedly covered Digg’s brand, website, and technology.

Cue the pointing and laughing. Everyone has picked up the Journal’s story and brandished it as evidence of social media’s fickle nature.

There may be a little more to it than that, though. The folks at TechCrunch say they’ve heard from “multiple sources” that the total acquisition price was closer to $16 million. TechCrunch doesn’t contradict the $500K ballpark figure for the Betaworks deal, but it claims the Washington Post snagged the Digg team for $12 million, while LinkedIn made off with “around 15” Digg patents in exchange for a payment in the $3.75-4 million range. (Among the patents are one that covers “[clicking] a button to vote up a story.”) TechCrunch claims Betaworks only acquired “remaining assets,” including Digg’s “domain, code, data and all the traffic.”

Whatever the actual sale price, Digg may stop existing as we know it. According to Digg’s Matt Williams, Betaworks plans to combine Digg with News.me, which he describes as a “Betaworks company with an iPad app, iPhone app and daily email that delivers the best stories shared by your friends on Facebook and Twitter.” It’s not clear how much of the original service will remain.

Comments closed
    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    always kept seeing those annoying “Digg this” pop outs until i had adbock put a stop to it. ANNOYING as hell and would never even bother remembering them.

    • adisor19
    • 7 years ago

    Digg killed Digg. It’s as simple as that. When v4 came out, it was game over.

    Everybody moved over to Reddit.

    Adi

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    I remember the time when Digg was kinda like it was the ‘in’ thing, but I never ever ‘Digged’ stories or articles I read online. Like, why would I? Like I even cared what Digg was.

      • Visigoth
      • 7 years ago

      Like, seriously, because I, like, I don’t care, like why? :-/

    • EV42TMAN
    • 7 years ago

    i use to listen to the Diggnation Podcast and i loved it but when they were debating about stopping the show digg.com started to go downhill. Then when they did stop the show digg really went down hill. Kevin Rose is a funny guy I’m still trying to figure out what he’s working on at google?

    • cheapFreeAgent
    • 7 years ago

    So Google/Youtube has also paid for that patent for its Like/Dislike button (?)

      • Archer
      • 7 years ago

      This could really turn it around for Google+.

    • anotherengineer
    • 7 years ago

    What is/was Digg??

    • Anarchist
    • 7 years ago

    what I don’t get is … why is digg even worth 500k?

      • kyboshed
      • 7 years ago

      If Betaworks can tie Digg’s API into their own systems, they could get decent amount of traffic out of the digg buttons which are still present on many sites.

    • danny e.
    • 7 years ago

    linked in looking to sue the pants off facebook for using the “like” button to vote posts up?

    • danny e.
    • 7 years ago

    I really need to submit my “paper product for the removal of feces from the rear-end” patent.
    prior art be darned. .. I’m guessing no one is going to want to demonstrate the usage of prior art which my legal team will insist upon.

    • mattthemuppet
    • 7 years ago

    it was the “three people familiar with the matter” bit that made me laugh

    • MadManOriginal
    • 7 years ago

    Note to self: be sure to sellout when the offer is ridiculous.

    • RickyTick
    • 7 years ago

    Kevin Rose is a freaking genius, right up there with Johnathan Wendel.

      • albundy
      • 7 years ago

      Fatality!!! FTW!!!

        • squeeb
        • 7 years ago

        It’s actually “Fatal1ty”.

        lol.

    • Spyder22446688
    • 7 years ago

    More like $16 million, once you total it all up.

    [url<]http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/12/digg-sold-to-linkedin-and-the-washington-post-and-betaworks/[/url<]

      • kyboshed
      • 7 years ago

      Still a big loss considering the $45M invested…

    • Captain Ned
    • 7 years ago

    A patent for clicking a button to “vote up a story”.

    If you ever needed evidence that our patent system is broken …

      • d0g_p00p
      • 7 years ago

      The same as Amazon’s one click button and Apple’s iPhone patent troll on any cell phone looking like all current smart phones. Our patent system has been broken for quite some time.

      It’s really ridiculous what you can patent in this day and age.

        • sschaem
        • 7 years ago

        The patent can have an easy screening process to catch the great majority of scammers.

        Have a public USPTO bulletin board where only the patent ‘problem’ are posted.
        If withing 7 days a solution is posted back that match the patent proposal its rejected.
        (A thread can also collect prior art related to this problem)

        99.99999% of patent would never see the light of day.

        But people with money dont want that, because money buys patents and let you hold control leveraging the justice system.
        In short you can buy the justice system with money to stop other people to compete.
        Thats why even trivial solution will never see the light of day…

          • indeego
          • 7 years ago

          The USPTO is a revenue generating office of the U.S. government. They want as many patents as possible. They are constantly hiring new examiners for the massive backlog of patents to be approved. The U.S. government and big players continue to pay into it because despite all the tech battles patents are by far a profitable investment for companies with lobbyists.

            • UberGerbil
            • 7 years ago

            Actually the USPTO historically has been a money-[i<]losing[/i<] operation, and the flood of tech-related applications requiring them to hire more examiners has only made that worse. One of the stipulations of the Leahy‐Smith America Invents Act (which changes a lot of things about the PTO) was for the patent office to raise its fees to roughly recoup its costs -- ie break even, not generate revenue. (While simultaneously lowering the fees for the archtypical "inventor in his basement" which they call a "micro-entity")

            • Ragnar Dan
            • 7 years ago

            And granting a patent does nothing for revenue, though I suppose doing so more commonly (and with less review) would generate more applications for them. I’ll have to find that doubtlessly ponderous law to see what it does, but given the first name on it, I’m dubious of its value.

      • ludi
      • 7 years ago

      I just did a quick PTO search for anything relating to Digg and none of the patent titles showed up with anything close to that exact phrase, which makes me think it’s a tech industry journalist’s soundbite summary of something he didn’t actually understand.

    • CampinCarl
    • 7 years ago

    People still use Digg?

      • yogibbear
      • 7 years ago

      I will upvote you for that 😉

      • sweatshopking
      • 7 years ago

      no. hence it selling for less than the 200 million.

      • Malphas
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]People still use Digg?[/quote<] No, they don't. That was pretty much the point of the article.

        • just brew it!
        • 7 years ago

        Yup. TBH it didn’t hit me that Digg was pretty much gone until I saw this story, since I’ve always ignored it.

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