Now that we’ve had half a decade to digg and be dugg, it seems like a perfect time to reflect on Digg’s history, growth, and struggles. While there are many events that shaped the character of the social bookmarking site, five events across five different years stood out to us as pivotal moments in Digg’s history.
Below is a recounting of some of the company’s major turning points, from its birth in 2004 to its struggle to become profitable this year. Here are five of the biggest milestones in Digg’s history:
1. Digg’s Launch
You can’t start a list like this without recognizing how it all began. In November of 2004, founder Kevin Rose (former host on TechTV), along with Owen Byrne (original developer), Ron Gorodetsky, and Jay Adelson (now Digg’s CEO) helped get Digg off the ground. On December 4th, 2004, it launched to the public with less than 1000 users.
Back then, it was simple, ad-free, and focused on tech, but it was the birth of a social media juggernaut.
On July 1, 2005, Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht (Kevin’s previous co-host on TechTV’s The Screen Savers), started a video podcast centered around what was popular on Digg. It was one of the first three shows to launch on a new Internet video network called Revision3.
That show was Diggnation, and it quickly grew with the help of loyal diggers into one of the largest and most popular video podcasts around. It helped push Digg and its brand to new audiences while acting as the flagship program for Revision3 at the same time.
Diggnation’s impact on the Digg brand and its community has been tremendous, although it hasn’t helped push Digg into the mainstream consciousness. Still, 231 episodes later, Diggnation has been a big success.
3. Launch of Digg 3.0
The social bookmarking website has gone through several iterations, but perhaps the most important one of them all was when Digg 3.0 launched on June 26th, 2006.
What was so special about Digg Version 3? It was when Digg launched topics and categories, expanding it beyond its technology base. Politics, gaming, business, science, and all of its various verticals have successfully grown and helped Digg exceed its technology roots, although it is still the core that holds the Digg community together.
4. Digg DRM Revolt
While it’s always been known that Digg and its users have a lot of influence across the web, it was made clear to everybody in dramatic fashion on May 1st, 2007.
A group of hackers successfully found a way to crack the Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection of the now-defunct HD-DVD standard. With the encryption cracked, Digg’s users posted the code and instructions on how to copy and crack HD-DVDs
Digg itself was worried that the cracked keys would result in lawsuits and cease and desist orders. Thus, they decided to delete articles referencing it and, in a blog post, stated that “In order for Digg to survive, it must abide by the law.”
That’s when Digg went out of control. Its users flooded the entire website with nothing but the HD-DVD crack or anti-Digg submissions. Digg couldn’t keep up. Eventually Kevin Rose stepped in and conceded to the community’s wishes. From his blog post.
“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.”
It was on this day that Digg proved its power and really caught the attention of the mainstream media.
5. Digg Ads
At the beginning of this year, Digg was in crisis mode. It laid off 10% of its staff and focused on getting profitable after it was revealed that the company made only made $6.4 million in the first nine months of 2009.
Digg had a plan, however. In June, the company revealed Digg Ads, a new system of advertising where users would control how much advertisers pay for ad space on the homepage of Digg and elsewhere. They officially launched on August 6th.
It’s too early to tell how successful Digg Ads will eventually be, but so far, the future of Digg Ads (and Digg itself) look bright.