I’m sure everyone remembers clearly the mini-fiasco behind BusinessWeek’s cover of Kevin Rose proclaiming him to be the $60 million boy (at age 30) (9rules’ take on things). For one reason or another it seems people want to see Digg make it big and succeed, but don’t seem to look at what it would take for it to do so. Now, I can’t claim to know the future plans of Mr. Rose, but it’s hard to see Digg having the impact on the web that everyone is proclaiming it has in its current iteration.
In one form or another, Social News sites have been around for a very long time so it is almost silly to consider the Digg model as revolutionary. Mix Fark with a little bit of MetaFilter and essentially you have Digg. What Digg does well is give the users a sense of participation on the site by allowing them to Digg stories to the frontpage. Throw in some Slashdot commenting functionality and you have the Social News sweetheart of the web.
Valued by “many” VCs at around $200 million I have to wonder where the value is. I love Digg and use it often, but what does that $200 million really provide me with? I get to go to a site and then leave the site. Many times I can find the links in other places so what’s the real value that I am getting from here?
I can only guess that the reason so many of us want to see Digg succeed is because we are capable of creating something similar (doesn’t mean it will gain traction) and we become first-hand witnesses of the next big thing. Compare Digg to Flickr and the valuations that get pushed around become even more baffling. Flickr is a site that caters to millions of registered users (more than Digg) and actually provides value that you can see right away. The site allows you to capture your life with photos and archive them for the world to see. Throw in a bit of advertising along with a Pro version and it seems Flickr deserves the $200MM valuation more than Digg.
Flickr also provides a sense of community compared to other photo-sharing sites, which in turn only creates more value. Digg’s community might be unique to the people that participate, but the same kind of community can be found on Fark, Metafilter, Slashdot and many other sites.
None of this means that Digg isn’t important to the web, I just have to question how important it is to the web versus how important we are making it seem. I know there is a problem when Netscape can offer to pay the top Digg contributors money if they move to Netscape and it causes a major uproar. If the service is truly valuable there shouldn’t be any concern, right? However, look how quickly Netscape was able to emulate the Digg model. Login -> Submit -> Digg/Vote.
If Digg is able to sell for millions and millions of dollars then more power to them, but for the ones who decide to buy it you have to wonder what’s the true value that they see in it. Tons of sites on the web receive millions of pageviews a month and keep readers on the site longer than Digg can. The value in Digg is that it has become a great model for the next breed of portals if they ever decide to make a comeback. Other than that, it still looks to be just another large site to me.