The other thing Kevin mentions, along with “new features,” is infrastructure. I have no doubt that Digg pushes a lot of bandwidth, and no doubt uses a few boatloads of server space as well — but almost $30-million? Does it cost that much just to develop some analytics for partners like the New York Times? Of course, Digg also says it’s going to hire another 75 people and move into a new office, which will definitely crank up the old “burn rate” a little bit, as Valleywag notes. Om says he has it on good authority that Kevin Rose pocketed some of that money by selling some shares, and I’d agree with Om that if he did then he should be congratulated for taking the opportunity to make that old BusinessWeek cover a little more true.
I think this rumour has some legs, not because I have any kind of inside contacts at Google, but because I think a combination of Digg and Google News would make for a pretty attractive property in a lot of ways. It didn’t seem like a great fit when Digg was mostly just tech-focused, but as the service has broadened its appeal I think it has come closer to something Google would be interested in, although how much Digg has really expanded its readership is open to debate. The Internet behemoth has an obvious interest in the social side of content delivery (when you think about it, PageRank is a form of crowd-sourcing) and it might juice things up a bit at Google News — or even the search side, where the company is apparently testing user input on search results.
It goes without saying that even if the two are talking about a deal, it could go off the rails at any point over issues like price, control, etc. But all in all I think that a combination makes some sense. If nothing else, I’d like to see what would happen if Google combined Digg with Google News or turned the Digg algorithm loose on search.
Nick has a point when he says that 200-per-cent growth in a single month is pretty impressive, although it’s worth noting that such growth rates aren’t unheard of when a site is coming from a small base. My ability to bench-press 350 pounds increased by 200 per cent last month as well, but that’s because I was able to do three of them instead of just one. Marshall’s point seems to be that Mixx should be seeing even more growth given some of the top-tier names that are adding Mixx links to their news stories. As the Washington Post notes, many of those connections come from Mixx founder Chris McGill’s former ties to Yahoo and USA Today (McGill has responded to Marshall’s post).
Drew Curtis, the founder of Fark, makes an interesting point in the Washington Post story: he says he doesn’t think social-news services such as Digg and Mixx are a great fit with mainstream media sites. “Most people don’t bother with them because they’re either lazy or they just don’t care,” he says. A little harsh, but pretty close to the truth, I would argue. Mixx may have no trouble attracting social-news junkies — although I find it cluttered and don’t see much in the way of community there (something Tony Hung mentions as well) — but will many of those come from the links at CNN or USA Today? I’m not so sure.
Could Jay be telling the truth and yet still working on a sale of Digg? Sure he could. As Peter Kafka notes at Silicon Alley Insider, the Digg denial didn’t say that the company wasn’t for sale, and it didn’t deny that Google and/or Microsoft were talking to the company — it just said that reports of a bidding war between the two were false. Companies do this all the time: deny that anything is happening, in as vague a way as possible, right up until the thing actually happens. Steve Jobs is a master of this. Remember “People will never watch video on a handheld device?”
So at least for now, the Digg takeover rumours are just as alive as they were before, despite Jay’s denial. Would Google or Microsoft make a better buyer? I’m not sure. It would be interesting to see what Google would do with it — would they integrate it somehow with Google Reader maybe? — but to me that seems like a stretch. I think Microsoft needs the help more when it comes to getting social networks and recommendation engines and so on. And maybe Kevin will one day actually be worth the $60-million that BusinessWeek said he was worth way back when.