While it certainly is not the Instagram sale to Facebook for a record $1 billion, the sale of online news aggregator Digg could very well have been. The site, via its blog, announced its sale to a New York-based technology group, Betaworks, saying that it would be merged with daily briefing service website, News.me. The sale, according to the Wall Street Journal, was made for a modest sum of $500,000.
On the Digg blog, CEO Matt Williams wrote, “Today marks the next stage in Digg's future. We couldn't be happier to announce that the next generation of Digg will live on with the team from Betaworks,” adding, “Betaworks is combining Digg with News.me, 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.”
Launched in 2004, Digg quickly became a hot popular on the internet, racking up since then, some nearly 28 million story submissions, 350 million article votes and 40 million comments. Rising through the ranks, Digg hit the 100 most visited sites on the internet list and earned its founder, Kevin Rose, a pretty sum, supposedly making some $60 million in roughly 18 months. But Digg’s bubble burst after Rose left in 2011 following changes to the website that turned away traffic and users, with competitors Stumbleupon and Reddit quickly capitalizing on this wane and users turning to Twitter instead.
Digg did release a Facebook app that helped bring it back on the upswing, but it no longer resided at the top spot of news aggregator websites and this was similarly reflected in its valuation. It is believed that at the height of its popularity, Google offered a sum of $200 million to Digg, but the offer was apparently refused.
Coupled with its declining fortunes, Digg also lost a number of its engineers to a Washington Post subsidiary called Social Code. Following this, it is believed that the go ahead for the sale of the site was given. CEO Matt Williams spoke about the decision to sell Digg, saying, “Digg has always been a site built by the community, for the community. Over the last few months, we've considered many options of where Digg could go, 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 start-up roots.”